Introduction: higher education for sustainable development
Corcoran, Peter Blaze
Clugston, Richard M.
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Over the past 30 years, the global community has been debating the signi(cance of environmental problems and the meaning and urgency of sustainable development. The major purpose of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa, form August 26 to September 4, 2002, is to a3rm the importance of sustainable development for the 21st century, de(ne the central elements of sustainability, and identify priorities for action. Over the past 10 years, many United Nations summits have been held, focusing on population, women, cities, food, social development, and other topics. Each has added more insights to our understanding of sustainable development. This vision of devel- opment requires not only economic progress but peace, economic and social justice, concern for future generations, and for nature itself. This requires signi(cant shifts in the policies of our national governments, the practices of our organizations, corpora- tions, and communities—and in our individual consumer choices. Colleges and universities are vested by society with the task of discerning truth, imparting values, and socializing students to contribute to social progress and the ad- vancement of knowledge. They have a profound responsibility to impart the moral vision and technical knowledge needed to ensure a high quality of life for future generations. Sustainable development is the current context in which higher education must focus its mission. Many higher education institutions have responded to this ma- jor challenge of our time by making sustainability central to the critical dimensions of university life—curriculum, research and scholarship, operations, community outreach and service, student opportunities, institutional mission and structure, and faculty and sta= development and rewards.