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Thomas G. Johnson University of Missouri Presented to the 7 th World Conference of the Global Consortium of Higher Education and Research for Agriculture.

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Presentation on theme: "Thomas G. Johnson University of Missouri Presented to the 7 th World Conference of the Global Consortium of Higher Education and Research for Agriculture."— Presentation transcript:

1 Thomas G. Johnson University of Missouri Presented to the 7 th World Conference of the Global Consortium of Higher Education and Research for Agriculture Beauvais, France June 28, 2011

2  Why sustainable rural development?  Why colleges, schools and institutes of agriculture?  Focus on  What makes rural sustainability unique  Education FOR rural sustainable development  Some pedagogical strategies  Challenges

3  Colleges, schools and institutes of agriculture should play a unique and critical role in education for sustainable development  International scope & collaboration essential  Our curriculum & pedagogy must evolve to meet new challenges  Must involve place-based regional strategies

4  Sustainability to some is no growth  To others, development within bounds  To some it is synonymous with environmentalism  Yet others see it as a new world view

5  World view: the fundamental basis of our perceiving, thinking, valuing and acting  Current world view is one of divisions  Humans from nature  Organic from inorganic  Rural from urban  North from South  The current world view threatened by rising economic, environmental, social and political unrest and injustice

6  A sustainability-based world view replaces  The concept of environment with ecology  Reductionism with systems thinking  Nation states with a world of interelated regions  Humans viewed as a part of ecology  The Gaia hypothesis  Interconnectedness  Self regulating feedback loops

7  By 2050 less than one third of the world’s population will be rural  Urbanization makes rural sustainability more difficult but more important  Rural areas are source of most food, energy, water, natural resources, and environmental services  These, and climate change, are among our biggest challenges in the next century

8  Most sensitive biological systems are rural  Rural economic activities based on space and nature rather than proximity and scale  Rural areas have low population density and less infrastructure  Different economic and social structures  Rural areas have declining political influence

9  Education plays a critical role in achieving sustainability  Education ABOUT sustainable development  Education FOR sustainable development

10  Teaching the need for sustainability  Teaching the consequences of unsustainable behavior  Teaching an awareness of sustainable and unsustainable practices  Encouraging an ‘ethics of sustainability’

11  Providing students with the skills necessary to implement sustainable development and sustainable practices  Critical thinking and creativity to devise new solutions

12  Much has already been achieved  Systems perspective in programs of study  Interdisciplinary curricula  Interdisciplinary degrees  International collaboration in research and education  Much more to do  Model sustainability on our campuses  Teach sustainability in our courses  Promote sustainability among our societies

13  Improving understanding of biological, engineering, social and economic systems especially in rural areas  Educating the urban majority about their stake in rural development  Educating future scientists, managers, teachers, policy analysts and journalists to solve sustainability problems  Convincing traditional stakeholders and funders to support research and teaching in sustainable activities

14  Ag Colleges are ideally suited to lead higher education toward systemic sustainability education  Inherently multi disciplinary—physics, biology, zoology, chemistry, engineering, and social sciences  Many opportunities for inter disciplinary research and education  Focus on rural areas where our biggest threats to sustainability will be faced  Food security  Renewable energy  Water quantity and quality, and  Climate change adaptation

15  The most egregious examples of unsustainable activities have occurred in rural areas  Strip mining  Desertification  Soil erosion  Wetland degradation  Rural depopulation

16  Sustainability will be good for farms and rural residents, places and regions  Currently most rural regions are net consumers of petroleum and coal based products  In a distributed sustainable bioeconomy rural regions will be net producers of energy  Rural regions will become favored areas for energy consuming economic activity

17 1. Competencies for solving environmental and rural development problems 2. Ecological basis of systems 3. Systems thinking 4. Ethics education 5. Entrepreneurship 6. Resiliency strategies

18 1. Value diversity of ideas 2. Multidisciplinary critiques of curricula 3. Programs of study that support T-shaped expertise 4. Problem-based and experiential learning 5. Participatory action research 6. Incorporate local (place-based) knowledge

19 A new accounting system  Because ‘we value what we measure’  GDP is a partial measure of flows  Must incorporate depletion of stocks (including environmental and social capital)  Account for waste, pollution and externalities  Measure outcomes rather than inputs

20 Ecological economics  Focus on system dynamics, interaction of economics, social and environmental variables Rural entrepreneurship  Focus on innovative agriculture-based activities  Rural and Agri-tourism

21  Annual summer institute involving 15 universities in North America and Europe  Multidisciplinary students and faculty  Study institutional context for rural sustainable development  Experiential and participatory  Network of over 150 alumni and about 50 faculty members over 8 years  Numerous comparative research projects

22  Facilitating change while teaching conservation  Ensuring disciplinary rigor while increasing interdisciplinary knowledge  Satisfying stakeholders while questioning current practices  Expanding our educational scope during time of declining public support

23  Sustainable rural development is our responsibility and our opportunity  Our challenge is to educate for sustainability and to serve as a model for our students, our university and society THANK YOU

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