The Sustainability Mindset Is No Longer A Mystery
by Isabel Rimanoczy, Ed.D.
When I was starting my doctoral work at Columbia University and considered to focus on leaders championing sustainability initiatives, a professor asked me what I meant by sustainability. It’s exciting to look back and feel like 2005 was the past century.
This question would definitely not be asked today. We have new questions now: How can we accelerate much needed change? How can we go from the saddle approach to embedding the sustainability lens into every discipline, every course? What would such a “lens” look like? Should we provide information to make the case of the seriousness of our planetary challenges? Would that depress our audience and make them shut down? Should we perhaps show best sustainability practices and innovation to inspire our audience? Should we stay technical, rational, or should we engage the spirit, the personal values, and the feelings? How appropriate would the latter be, in our knowledge-focused educational institution?
These are some of the questions a group of scholars has been discussing over the past 8 years, in the PRME Working Group on the Sustainability Mindset. We call this network “LEAP”, an acronym stating the mission: Leverage resources, Expand awareness, Accelerate change and Partner, and also signaling that when we address the mindset, a quantum leap happens and the transformation speeds up, reflected in proactive behaviors.
Numerous scholarly papers, models, syllabi, books and book chapters were created by the members of this free community of practice. Recently, a conceptual framework was published, the Sustainability Mindset Principles, as a guide with exercises for educators of any discipline to develop the key aspects of a new mindset. And the first assessment instrument – the Sustainability Mindset Indicator- is already in its pilot phase.
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Isabel Rimanoczy, Ed.D.
Convener, PRME Working Group on the Sustainability Mindset