Sustainable Regional Development: Starting with the Schools
Leo Elshof, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, School of Education
Acadia University
Wolfville, Nova Scotia B4P 2R6, Canada
1-902-585-1317  leo.elshof@acadiau.ca 
The future success of any ‘greening’ or sustainability initiatives on a local, regional and national level will depend on young people’s understanding of how business and technological systems impact upon on ecosystem and human health. Unfortunately, the professional training and development of most secondary teachers is often lacking in awareness of the scientific principles underlying sustainability, eco-design methodologies, green business paradigms or systems thinking approaches.  As a result, preliminary evidence from several provinces and a number of U.S. states indicates that relatively few eco-technological principles or practices have been incorporated into secondary school technological education curricula. Common obstacles include the dearth of professional interdisciplinary curriculum materials to the entrenched worldviews of some which perceive sustainability and technological development to be the antithesis of each other. Teaching young people to design and manufacture ‘green products’ alone will be ineffective if we do not concurrently teach them how to market their ideas and skills globally. For example, despite its recognized importance in business and practical thinking about sustainability, anecdotal evidence indicates that very little in the way of ‘systems thinking’ occurs across disciplines within secondary schools. This educational disciplinary ‘silo’ effectively isolates economic, scientific, technological and social innovation, it is an anachronism which stands in the way of genuine progress toward a more sustainable future. This dialogue will explore:


  • How might business and industry support new opportunities for interdisciplinary professional development, and forums where business, science and technological professionals can work collaboratively to design and pilot curricula which embody sustainability principles?
  • What new types of research, innovative partnerships, pilot projects and sponsorship support are required in order to promote eco-technological design and business education?
  • What types of eco-business simulations, scenarios, and gaming systems might be created to promote innovative thinking about sustainability among young people?




All Submissions
7:00 AM-5:00 PM, Thursday, 20 October 2005, Oral

The Nova Scotia, Canada 2005 Meeting