A University for the Studies of Sustainable Development in Action
Global dimensions characterize the world in the 21st Century. Next to the major challenge, climate change, it is also important to counter the non-sustainable use of natural resources — namely, air, water, soil, and biotic recourses — with new methods of conservation and sustainability practices. Therefore, the first thing to focus on would be to offer an innovative, experimental, but also deliberate environment to the new generation of students, for developing their talents and interests. Instead of reciting the old and familiar, the discovery of the unknown should clearly have priority. Rather than working off stocks of knowledge, students should be supplied with a flexible study environment, which can easily adjust study contents, faculty, and procedures concurrently to meet the changing needs of students. Although there already are quite a few private universities in Germany, some of which commit themselves to the above-mentioned ideas, there is no specific, purposeful approach toward dealing with the ecological challenges, based upon bridging the disciplines of human and natural sciences, which would affect current educational methods and research, but without constraining internal growth and individual study interests. The Eco League (www.ecoleague.org), a network of American and colleges is a good example to show that it is possible to build that bridge as an operating platform for young people's needs, but also to establish it as a carrier for sustainability practice. Led by the College of the Atlantic (www.coa.edu), this group exemplifies the achievements of a university, which has committed its program of study to sustainable development.