From sustainable development to degrowth: philosophical and educational strategies for sustainability
Keywords:degrowth, sustainable development, higher education, ecological education, all-around human personal development, deurbanization
The article is dedicated to analyzing the philosophical and educational grounds for the sustainable development of humankind. The growth of human civilization is already recognized to have its strict natural limits, and that has resulted in the formulation of the concept of sustainable development as a strategy for the future of humankind. However, there is some discrepancy noted in the concept of sustainable development – in particular, it is the lack of fundamental consistency between its ‘economic’ and ‘ecological’ components. It is insufficient to consider the nature being valuable only as a base of resources, as means for social and economic development. As sustainability could only be based on some minimal conditions for living within the regenerative capacity of the planet’s ecosystems, it is evident that the current crisis is a crisis of senses, values and lifestyle no less than it is the crisis of industry and social demography. Sustainability is argued to require a new kind of society that would be able to decrease its growth and its excessive consumption habits. The article analyzes the concept of degrowth as a kind of more radical and practical supplement to the rather abstract idea of sustainable development: degrowth is defined as an ecologically sound development. That concept is also shown to present new challenges for higher education as a social institution tasked with constituting a human personality capable of living in a environmentally sound future. Thus, higher education is faced today with the challenge of shaping out not only knowledge and skills, but values and behavior patterns as well, by giving more attention to general culture, critical thinking and creativity and by increasing social responsibility for environmental protection and adopting lifestyle practices of degrowth and reduced consumption.
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