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ERIC Number: EJ1143188
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-May
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1089-9995
Sustainability: Why the Language and Ethics of Sustainability Matter in the Geoscience Classroom
Metzger, Ellen P.; Curren, Randall R.
Journal of Geoscience Education, v65 n2 p93-100 May 2017
Because challenges to sustainability arise at the intersection of human and biophysical systems they are inescapably embedded in social contexts and involve multiple stakeholders with diverse and often conflicting needs and value systems. Addressing complex and solution-resistant problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation thus demands not only a scientific understanding of Earth systems, but consideration of the underlying human values, institutions, and norms that drive unsustainable ways of living. The search for solutions amidst a multiplicity of players and an array of potential outcomes inevitably leads to ethical quandaries. The purpose of this commentary is to synthesize perspectives from the geosciences and philosophy to provide a rationale for including the ethical dimensions of sustainability in geoscience education and to clarify the nature and ethics of sustainability. Drawing on an approach developed in the book "Living Well Now and in the Future: Why Sustainability Matters" (Curren and Metzger, 2017), we outline a way to conceptualize sustainability that bridges scientific and ethical perspectives and present four fundamental principles of sustainability ethics derived from our analysis and from core commitments of common morality. We supply a compilation of relevant teaching approaches and materials to help geoscience educators connect the enumerated concepts and principles to classroom practice and we conclude with a call for further cross-disciplinary conversations among geoscientists, philosophers, and social scientists who share a commitment to including sustainability concepts and ethics in their teaching.
National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Carleton College W-SERC, One North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057. Tel: 540-568-6675; Fax: 540-568-8058; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A