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Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
This article discusses the contributions to this special issue of "Teacher Education Quarterly." At the core of all the contributions is the compellingly urgent realization that humanity is facing, and must deal with, enormous ecological and social problems and challenges. This situation has created an urgent and compelling need centered on how the future citizenry of the industrialized West will be prepared relative to addressing and dealing with these problems and challenges. As is pointed out by the authors in this special issue, science and technology--in and of themselves--cannot save humanity from the impending environmental disaster now closing in on it. What is required at this juncture in history is a transformation of a particular way of life that has resulted in planetary degradation and the wholesale destruction of natural environments and entire species. What is required is a fundamental transformation in support of the development of a new paradigm, a new lens through which the Western mind can adjust its view of society, education and learning, citizenship, and the nature of human habitation on Earth. There is no doubt that formal education has a role to play in this transformation from the standpoint of important shifts in broad cultural and individual attitudes and intellectual orientations. It is also clear that these shifts in attitudes and orientations are of critical importance because modern industrial-capitalist market economies carry value systems with them that tend to undercut forces and values associated with sustainable socio-economic structures and related principles of ecological intelligence. It is posited by the authors in this issue that modern industrial-capitalist market economic systems are not sustainable over the long-term and that this casts doubt on the survivability of the Western industrial civilizations tied to them--especially in light of the anachronistic intellectual tradition that currently shapes the world view of the industrialized West. They advance the idea that formal education is capable of exploring foundational social, cultural, and economic issues associated with the conceptual framework that currently dominates the American scene, as well as raising questions about the future of these deeply embedded--and now dangerously outdated--structural paradigms of Western civilization. They propose that the Western world needs a new cognitive and epistemological approach appropriate to a new time in history. This includes a 21st century educational structure that matches 21st century physical realities.