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  • Institution: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutex

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Planning for Higher Education Journal

March 1, 2003

Impeding Sustainability? The Ecological Footprint of Higher Education

Higher education institutions must strive to reduce the impact of their own ecological footprints.

From Volume 31 Number 3 | March–May 2003

Abstract: Global society has “overshot” the long-term human carrying capacity of Earth. This unsustainable state is an emergent property of the systemic interaction of techno-industrial society as presently configured and the ecosphere. It cannot be corrected without fundamental changes to critical socio-cultural variables that determine the interaction. To the extent that higher education (re)produces the dominant cultural paradigm, it is a source of the problem. Universities must strive to reduce the ecological footprints of both their own operations and, more importantly, of the growth-oriented materialistic worldview they promote. Indeed, the real challenge for higher education is to help articulate an alternative life-sustaining worldview.

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