January 20th, 2015
It is clear that in making the concept of sustainable development concrete, one has to take into account a number of practical elements and obstacles. There is little doubt that integrated approaches are needed to support sustainable development. Therefore, a new research paradigm is needed that is better able to reflect the complexity and the multidimensional character of sustainable development. The new paradigm, referred to as sustainability science, must be able to encompass different magnitudes of scales (of time, space and function), multiple balances (dynamics), multiple actors (interests) and multiple failures (systemic faults).
The basic qualities that future sustainability scientists will need are: analytical insight, problem-solving qualities and good skills in both verbal and written presentation. No less important is knowledge of the diversity of instruments provided by the various disciplines involved, ranging from mathematics to history, from health sciences to economics. The range of skills needed is so wide that it can only be acquired through interdisciplinary study.
Today’s students will be the business leaders, scientific researchers, politicians, artists and citizens of tomorrow. The extent to which they will be prepared to take decisions in favour of a sustainable future depends on the awareness, the knowledge, expertise and values they have acquired during their studies and in the subsequent years. For this reason, the concepts and themes of sustainability should be integrated into all levels of educational programming. Curricula must be revised so that sustainable development forms a guiding principle throughout the entire period of their studies – and afterwards too. New teaching methods must accompany this ‘learning for sustainable development’.