Friday, August 8, 2008

Role of the Academic Sector in Enhancing the Integrity of the Environment

by Alan S. Cajes

Note: This is a revised copy of a paper delivered before students, parents, teachers and non-academic personnel at De La Salle University in Dasmarinas, Cavite on September 20, 2000.

World and World-view

Reality exists either in two places: inside or outside our skin. The reality that exists inside our skin includes our beliefs, feelings, aspirations, ideas, pains, fears, hopes, and joys, among others. These fragments of inner reality partly constitute our personality, i.e. who we are and what we will be. The outer reality consists of other people, things, other forms of life, nature, social structures and systems, including economic activities and political institutions. These particles of the world 'out there' partly shape and form our spatio-temporal condition[1].

Although we can make a distinction between a world “in here” and a world “out there”, these two worlds are not juxtaposed aliens to one another. Rather, these two worlds interpenetrate each other. The inner world shapes and forms the outer world, and the outer world mirrors the inner world. Whatever we have in the inner world, to paraphrase Chief Seattle, ultimately finds its expression in the outer world. This relationship ever rises to a higher level of complexity such as when there are many competing 'inner worlds' that seek realization in the outer world. Take for instance a watershed. Some people see it as an ideal site for a housing project. Others perceive it in terms of the money they could get by selling timber. There are also people who look at it as a venue for eking a living through farming. Still others, who recognize the inherent value of the watershed, fight for its protection and conservation.

The idea is that the inner world that we carry inside our heads seeks to be manifested in the world out there. And it is the dominant worldview -- usually shared by those who hold political and economic power and authority -- which usually fashion the outer world where we all live at the expense of the minority worldviews...[2]

Nature or what we normally call the environment forms our thoughts, and therefore our ideas. This is clearly manifested in the Visayan term kalibutan. This term has two meanings: consciousness and world. Thus, the statement Walay kalibutan kung walay kalibutan means "There is no consciousness if there is no world"[3]. Or simply, "No world, no consciousness."

The world or reality, transformed into images or ideas, is the content of our thought. This basic human experience enabled St. Thomas Aquinas to formulate his theory of knowledge: "Nothing is in the intellect which does not pass through the senses." The same experience led John Locke to think that the mind is a tabula rasa, a blank sheet into which is written the various human experiences.

In other words, we are conscious because of the world. Thus, the environment, our environment, to a large extent makes us what we are and who we are. When the early people saw a world, an environment, or nature that is both mysterious and powerful, their natural recourse was not to conquer the forces of nature but to live in harmony with the ways of nature. 
The early Greeks, for instance, revered nature. Kosmos is the Greek word for the order of things. The term later evolved into the meaning “world” or “universe,” which is associated with the notion of a “perfect order”[4]. Deisidaimonia, on the other hand, is the Greek word for “young humanity’s inborn habit of seeing the hand of God in every aspect of nature and reading spiritual or mystical significance into every fact of life”[5]. It literally means the fear of demons, fear being identifiable with the English word “dread” that connotes reverence and awe.

This aboriginal worldview did not aim at mastering nature but at harmonizing human activities with the rhythm and harmony of nature. A letter from Chief Seattle, chief of the Squarmish Indians, to the American Government in 1854 in response to the offer by “The Great White Chief” in Washington to buy Indian lands expresses this worldview.
How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshnessof the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clear and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memory and experience of my people.

… The white man's dead forgets the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forgets this beautiful Earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and the man, all belong to the same family.

… The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes and feed our children.

… The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath.… Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know - the Earth does not belong to man - man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the Earth - befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life - he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself[6].
The early Filipinos, like the American Indians, harmonized their ways with the natural forces. Florentino Hornedo says: “The traditional Filipino lived with nature. The forests and rivers were his ‘brothers.’ Their preservation and conservation was his life. Their destruction, his destruction. When he told his children that divine beings prohibited the desecration of the forest, he was speaking with the authority of life and in the name of life…[7]

Hornedo explains this aboriginal outlook in terms of the generalist and synthetic mind of the earlier peoples, which is in stark contrast to the specialist and reductionist attitude of the scientific mind. The aboriginal mind considered nature as mysterious; thus he was at the mercy of the forces of nature. With this condition, his natural recourse was to live with nature rather than subjugate it. In contrast, the scientific mind claims to have uncovered the cause and effect of the world, i.e., the secrets of natural phenomena. As a result, nature is no longer a mystery to him. Thus, nature is now at his mercy. But the aboriginal mind, Hornedo observes: "transcended the mere level of cause and effect to the human quest for meaning, which involves a fascination with purpose and final causes. His science therefore was concerned not with the control of nature, but with the making sense of phenomena and protecting his consciousness from the threat of absurdity. Thus, the aboriginal or traditional consciousness is not concerned with the conquest of natural forces, but with harmonizing his ways with it.  
Nature, he tells himself, is sovereign, and it is from the bounty of this sovereign reality that he feeds himself and his children. The noblest relation he can have with nature is expressed in terms of the familial—‘brother’ or ‘mother’, and such other effective symbols of a fruitful relationship[8].

In his study of ancient science, Ludwig Edelstein observes that the ancients did attempt “to give a consistently rational picture of nature, to classify phenomena systemically and to explain them, to establish a limited number of principles and to deduce their consequences”[9]. He said that the science which developed during the pre-Socratic period “undoubtedly aimed at understanding, at contemplation of the truth, of the essence of things”[10]. In fact, “explanation, classification and systematization are not foreign to Homeric or Hesiodic mythology. The epic knows well that what is truly seducing in the song of the Sirens is ‘their professions of knowledge”[11]. However, ancient science “was not a mere knowledge nor was it a mere technique; it preserved an awareness of the meaning of the universe and retained a place for values within the world of facts”[12].

Reverence to nature is not alien in the Christian tradition. It is said that the “utterance of God is the world, thus the world is His message.” In the Book of Genesis, God created the world through words. He commanded, “Let there be light” and then came light.  
In the Gospel of St. John, it is written: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Thus, God or the Word created the world through words. This makes the world a kind of message from the Word. It is a gospel in the sense that it enlightens our finite minds about something higher than ourselves, about somebody higher than our being. Because the world is a message, it has to be shared with all our fellow human beings.

The world is God’s gift to His people. Again in the Book of Genesis, God told His people to go to the world and multiply and have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves upon the earth. This biblical passage, however, has to be understood as a commandment of stewardship rather than as an authority to subdue the earth. For nowhere in the Holy Book did God say, “go to the world and overpopulate it” or “go to the world and pollute it” or “go to the world and extinguish the animals of the land, the birds of the air and fish of the sea.” Because the world is a gift, humans have the duty to take good care of it. Humans cannot destroy Planet Earth without insulting Him who bestowed it. Being a gift, the world has a value. Such value is ultimately grounded in God’s meaningful act of giving it as gift to human beings.

This same world-view has a way of explaining biological diversity. Saint Thomas Aquinas explains in his Summa Theologica that the "whole universe together participates in and manifests the divine more than any single being whatsoever"[13]. This is so "because the divine could not express itself in any single being," thus, "the divine created the great multiplicity of beings so that the perfection lacking to one would be supplied by the others"[14]. In his other book Summa Contra Gentiles, St. Thomas Aquinas refers to "the order of the universe" as "the ultimate and noblest perfection in things"[15]. Hence, human beings do not exist independently of nature but are merely strands in the web of life.

But the human perception of the world changed with the rise and consequent dominance of the empirical and reductionist science. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) initiated the tradition of experimental empiricism in Britain. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) propounded dualism, the theory of reality that separates res cogitans or mind from res extensa or matter. Galileo (1564-1642) combined the experimental empiricism of Bacon with the rationalism of Descartes resulting in a material and mathematical theory of reality or the scientific method. Isaac Newton (1642-1727) went further and claimed that science should separate the human observer from nature being observed. This approach made nature a “realm of impersonal objects, to be studied, then conquered or exploited by man”[16]. As Thomas Berry puts it:
This mechanistic view of the world encouraged the growth of technological invention and industrial plundering, culminating in the 1880's when the electronic and chemical research centers were established, scientific technologies were advanced, and the modem commercial corporations were formed. The objective was to make human societies as independent as possible from the natural world and to make the natural world as subservient as possible to human decisions. Nothing was to be left in its natural state[17].
The Newtonian approach is compounded by "disciplinary reductionism" in which branches of science, isolated from each other, seek to “explain the whole through the construction of theories specific to their respective perspectives.” This is what Jones calls the searchlight effect in which "an intense beam of light gives detailed knowledge of a part of reality, leaving the rest obscure"[18].

In 1926, Jan Smuts, who asserted that "reality is aggregative, emergent and holistic,"[19] published hid book Holism and Evolution. The term holism means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and embraces a hierarchy of explanation, the lowest rung of which is Newtonian mechanism[20]. According to Van Steenbergen, the holistic paradigm emphasizes "totality, the replacement of the observer by the participant, thinking in terms of processes, an affinity with systems theory" and ecologism[21]. It aims to advance a holistic universal science "with truth having many levels and at the same time grounded in a consciousness prior to the intellectual mind"[22].

The 20th century environmental movement began with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962, which cautioned the world about the “dangers of such recently developed agricultural chemicals as DDT, sending the world very specific warnings about the risks of postwar technologies that were producing artificial pesticides and other new chemical products.” Carson’s book inspired others to write about other threats to the quality and integrity of the environment. Some of these writings include Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb (1968), Barry Commoner’s The Closing Cirlce (1971) and the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth (1972) written by a research team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These writings stirred awareness among westerners about the urgent need to protect the resources of the planet from overexploitation and degradation. In the United States, increased awareness was notable among the students. The first Earth Day celebration held on April 2, 1970 was largely a campus-based activity. And it is said to be the apogee of the early years of the environmental movement.

In 1972, the United Nations held a Conference on Human Development in Stockholm. The discussions that ensued “placed economic justice at par with the concern of many industrialized nations for environmental protection”[23]. Eight years later, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) published the World Conservation Strategy: Living Resource Conservation for Sustainable Development, which claims that:
A new ethic, embracing plants and animals as well as people, is required for human societies to live in harmony with the natural world on which they depend for survival and well being. The long-term task of environmental education is to foster or reinforce attitudes and behavior compatible with this new ethic[24].
In 1982, the UN adopted the World Charter for Nature which recognizes that “every form of life is unique, warranting respect regardless of its worth to man”. A few years later, the UN’s World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) published its report Our Common Future in 1987. In this document, WCED recommends the adoption of the sustainable development paradigm to ensure the continued co-existence between humans and nature. It describes sustainable development as one that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Thus our relationship with nature changes over time depending on the way we perceive nature. Our perception of nature forms our thoughts about nature. By seeing nature as the handiwork of a powerful being, the aborigines revered nature. The scientific mind, with its proud mastery of the forces of nature, conquered and dominated nature. But when contemporary society felt the pangs of environmental disaster brought about by the wanton disregard of the integrity of the environment, our worldview tends to go back to aboriginal outlook. This is manifested in postmodern statements like this one from by the Women's Environment and Development Program: “We recognize that humankind has not woven the web of life; we are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. Whatever befalls the earth befalls also the family of earth…" This statement is a restatement of Chief Seattle's!

Role of the Academic Sector

The discussion on world and world-view is relevant to this topic because the academic sector operates in two locations of reality: inside and outside our skin. The intellectual establishment has two main functions: to clarify the meaning of the world inside our heads, and to understand the world out there so that we can live in it accordingly. How can the academic sector fulfill these two main functions? The are three possible ways: One, by clarifying the nature of nature; two, by promoting proper governance of ecology, and three, by continuing education, public awareness and training.

Clarifying the nature of nature

Thomas Berry, in his paper "The University: Its Response to the Ecological Crisis" which he read at Harvard University has this to say:
The university can be considered as one of the four basic establishments that determine human life in its more significant functioning. These four are the government, the church, the university and the commercial-industrial corporation - the political, religious, intellectual and economic establishments.

All four are failing in their basic purposes for the same reason. They all presume a radical discontinuity between the non-human and the human with all the rights given to the human to exploit the non-human. The non-human is not recognized as having any rights. All basic realities and values are identified with the human. The non-human attains its reality and value only through its use by the human. This has brought about a devastating assault on the non-human by the human[25].
Thus, the first role of the academic sector or the intellectual establishment in relation to the environment is to clarify the nature of nature itself. The aim is to answer a basic question: What kind of environment are we talking about? Is it the cosmos of the early Greek civilization? Is it the environment, which God formally turned over to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Is it the machine of Newtonian physics? Or the commodity of the commercial-industrial corporations? The answer to this question is important because we cannot speak of a role towards something we don't understand.

This role is particularly relevant at this time when our "culture has generally tended to solve its problems without experiencing its questions"[26]. We are providing solutions to various ecological problems like solid waste disposal, floods, depletion of food supply, environmental degradation, etc. which do not work in the long run because we fail to take into account the fundamental question behind these problems. As Jacob Needleman said: "Behind the problem of ecology lies the question of man's relationship to nature. The question of man's relationships to nature is identical to the question of man's relationship to reality itself. Nature is reality"[27].

The primary challenge before the academic community is to form a world-view that is based on the best that have been thought, said and done. And this requires the integration of knowledge coming from the human, social and natural sciences. For as Herman Daly argues:
"Why increase the separation of people by filling separate heads with separate fragments of knowledge? … Ecology is whole. It brings together the broken, analyzed, alienated, fragmented pieces of man's image of the world…Unless the physical, the social, and the moral dimensions of our knowledge are integrated in a unified paradigm offering a vision of wholeness, no solutions to our problems are likely"[28].

Promoting proper governance of ecology at the local level

The fundamental problem that the world faces today is how to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs or what we call inter- and intra-generational justice. This fundamental problem involves two components: (1) the ecological problem, which covers the degradation of the ecological systems and reduction in the natural capital stock and (2) the political problem, which includes ineffective governance. The juxtaposition of the terms "ecology" and "governance" is, therefore, both meaningful and relevant considering that among "the most urgent tasks of our time is to understand the implications of ecology for social and political thought"[29]. Here, governance is being summoned to address the ecological problem. On the other hand, ecology, both as a science and a paradigm, is seen as a philosophy that can enhance the art and science of governance.

It is clear that the basic problem has something to do with governance, which may be defined as "the capacity of the institutional environment" to manage the interaction among and between individuals and social groups, as well as the public agencies[30]. Robert N. Stavins explains the relevance of governance to ecological issues:

"The fundamental question that needs to be addressed by public policy in the area of environmental protection as we move into the next century is 'What is the appropriate role of government?' This question emerges along three fundamental dimensions in relation to environmental protection... (1) What is the appropriate degree of government activity; (2) what form should government activity take, and (3) what level of government should be delegated responsibility"[31]?
The fundamental problem is a serious challenge for all of us, especially that some studies suggest that "contemporary societies are unprepared for global transformations, and present forms of governance are in varying degrees obsolete and not equipped to cope with the needs and opportunities now emerging." Thus, we need creative approaches to address the problem and the recent manifestations of traditional problems like "what constitutes 'the good life' and how governance should promote it" [32].

For this discussion, two general approaches to governance may be distinguished: (1) the reformist approach and (2) the radical approach. The reformist approach generally holds that the ecological problem "can be appropriately and adequately be taken up within prevailing modes of thought and action." The radical approach proposes that a "whole new trajectory of development must be sought: one where economy and technology are ecologically sensitive, one whose values and attitudes are 'ecocentric,' one whose politics are 'ecologistic' and whose view of ecology is deep rather than shallow. These approaches are at the center of the intellectual debate on how to best manage our remaining natural resources to meet the needs of our generation and the generations yet to come.

Discussions that point towards a rethinking about the role of governments are prevalent in recent literature in economics, politics and sociology. Ahrens, for instance, says that we cannot simply prescribe an effective form or approach to governance because "present knowledge about how to create efficient political institutions is limited." For Yehezkol Dror:
"Many governance issues require fundamental reconsideration as a result of global transformations, for example, notions of human rights and responsibilities, cultural pluralism and solidarity. How and to what extent should governance promote moral education? How should advancement of democracy be combined with recognition of the right to prefer alternative regimes? Imaginative political thinking is needed on a wide range of topics to assist governance as it faces unprecedented problems and tasks."[33]
A re-evaluation about the nature and role of governance is in order, especially that it "impacts directly on the lives of poor people who are less able to avoid the adverse consequences of poor governance and therefore bear a disproportionate share of the ill effects of systems and structures of governance that do not reflect their interest"[34]. Such need to rethink the meaning of governance is brought about by the emergence of the ecological paradigm, which locates the State within the sphere of a larger system - ecology. And perhaps, it is only through ecological governance -- one that considers the findings of ecology as a science and as a paradigm -- that our society can make sense out of the present condition and do something to address the challenges and problems of a new world order.

In the area of local ecological governance, the academic sector can help by building the capacity of people and institutions whose exercise of power and authority has direct impact on the integrity of the environment. Specifically, the academic sector can play the role of a 'gown' in 'town', i.e., a provider of capacity building services to local government units (LGUs) in areas like environmental management, solid waste management, effective local governance, etc. With this arrangement, LGUs need not rely on the expertise of outsiders, who may not have a good understanding about the problems of a community. 
The academe, being a stakeholder in a community where it operates, should exercise its corporate or institutional citizenship not only by providing relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes to its graduates, or by serving as a vanguard of the community interest against the selfish and vested interests of those who are in power. The academe also needs to respond to the capacity building requirements of LGUs, especially in the area of ecological governance.

For so long a time, LGUs have been at the receiving end of development with the national government exercising a top-down approach to governance. But there is now a consensus among people from various disciplines that the top-down approach to governance no longer works, especially under a liberal democratic political environment. Thus, the shift to area-based and bottom-top approaches to governance. This shift in governance approach is explained by the Max-Neef:
“Development…cannot, by definition, be structured from the top downwards. It cannot be imposed whether by law or by decree. It can only emanate directly from the actions, expectations, and creative and critical awareness of the protagonist themselves. Instead of being the traditional objects of development, people must take a leading role in development”[35].
Under this approach to governance, the intellectual establishment has the responsibility to improve the quality of governance at the local level, especially on matters related to the integrity of the environment. We know from our previous topic that the quality of ideas inside the heads of people has a direct bearing on the quality of our environment. If we allow wrong ideas to flourish in the minds of those who govern us, then we become accomplices in the continuing degradation of nature's integrity.

Continuing education, public awareness and training

The Philippine Government is a signatory to the Global Program of Action for Sustainable Development (Agenda 21). Agenda 21 recognizes the importance of educational institutions in the continuing struggle to mainstream the philosophy of sustainable development. Its 36th Chapter is entitled: Promoting Education, Public Awareness and Training. The three program areas of this chapter, including their respective basis for action and proposed activities relevant to the academic sectors are presented below.

Program Area 1: Reorienting education towards sustainable development

Basis for action: "Education, including formal education, public awareness and training should be recognized as a process by which human beings and societies can reach their fullest potential. Education is critical for promoting sustainable development and improving the capacity of the people to address environment and development issues. While basic education provides the underpinning for any environmental and development education, the latter needs to be incorporated as an essential part of learning. Both formal and non-formal types of education are indispensable to changing people's attitudes so that they have the capacity to assess and address their sustainable development concerns. It is also critical for achieving environmental and ethical awareness, values and attitudes, skills and behavior consistent with sustainable development and for effective public participation in decision-making. To be effective, environment and development education should deal with the dynamics of both the physical/biological and socio-economic environment and human (which may include spiritual) development, should be integrated in all disciplines, and should employ formal and non-formal methods and effective means of communication."

Proposed Activities (Academe-related):
  • Educational authorities, with the appropriate assistance from community groups or non-governmental organizations, are recommended to assist or set up pre-service and in-service training programs for all teachers, administrators, and educational planners, as well as non-formal educators in all sectors, addressing the nature and methods of environmental and development education and making use of relevant experience of non-governmental organizations;
  • Relevant authorities should ensure that every school is assisted in designing environmental activity work plans, with the participation of students and staff. Schools should involve schoolchildren in local and regional studies on environmental health, including safe drinking water, sanitation and food and ecosystems and in relevant activities, linking these studies with services and research in national parks, wildlife reserves, ecological heritage sites etc.;
  • Educational authorities should promote proven educational methods and the development of innovative teaching methods for educational settings. They should also recognize appropriate traditional education systems in local communities;
  • Countries, assisted by international organizations, non-governmental organizations and other sectors, could strengthen or establish national or regional centers of excellence in interdisciplinary research and education in environmental and developmental sciences, law and the management of specific environmental problems. Such centers could be universities or existing networks in each country or region, promoting cooperative research and information sharing and dissemination;
  • Educational authorities, with appropriate assistance of non-governmental organizations, including women's and indigenous peoples' organizations, should promote all kinds of adult education programs for continuing education in environment and development, basing activities around elementary/secondary schools and local problems. These authorities and industry should encourage business, industrial and agricultural schools to include such topics in their curricula. The corporate sector could include sustainable development in their education and training programs. Programs at a post-graduate level should include specific courses aiming at the further training of decision makers;
  • Governments and educational authorities should foster opportunities for women in non-traditional fields and eliminate gender stereotyping in curricula. This could be done by improving enrolment opportunities, including females in advanced programs as students and instructors, reforming entrance and teacher staffing policies and providing incentives for establishing child-care facilities, as appropriate. Priority should be given to education of young females and to programs promoting literacy among women;
  • Encouraging twinning of universities in developed and developing countries.
Program Area 2: Increasing public awareness

Basis for action: "There is still a considerable lack of awareness of the interrelated nature of all human activities and the environment, due to inaccurate or insufficient information. Developing countries in particular lack relevant technologies and expertise. There is a need to increase public sensitivity to environment and development problems and involvement in their solutions and foster a sense of personal environmental responsibility and greater motivation and commitment towards sustainable development."

Proposed Activities (Academe-related)
  • Countries and regional organizations should be encouraged, as appropriate, to provide public environmental and development information services for raising the awareness
  • Of all groups, the private sector and particularly decision makers;
  • Countries should stimulate educational establishments in all sectors, especially the tertiary sector, to contribute more to awareness building. Educational materials of all kinds and for all audiences should be based on the best available scientific information, including the natural, behavioral and social sciences, and taking into account aesthetic and ethical dimensions;
  • Countries, in cooperation with the scientific community, should establish ways of employing modern communication technologies for effective public outreach. National and local educational authorities and relevant United Nations agencies should expand, as appropriate, the use of audio-visual methods, especially in rural areas in mobile units, by producing television and radio programs for developing countries, involving local participation, employing interactive multimedia methods and integrating advanced methods with folk media;
  • Public awareness should be heightened regarding the impacts of violence in society.
Program Area 3: Promoting Training

Basis for action: "Training is one of the most important tools to develop human resources and facilitate the transition to a more sustainable world. It should have a job-specific focus, aimed at filling gaps in knowledge and skill that would help individuals find employment and be involved in environmental and development work. At the same time, training programs should promote a greater awareness of environment and development issues as a two-way learning process."
Proposed Activities (Academe-related):
  • Countries and educational institutions should integrate environmental and developmental issues into existing training curricula and promote the exchange of their methodologies and evaluations.
  • Countries should encourage all sectors of society, such as industry, universities, government officials and employees, non-governmental organizations and community organizations, to include an environmental management component in all relevant training activities, with emphasis on meeting immediate skill requirements through short-term formal and in-plant vocational and management training. Environmental management training capacities should be strengthened, and specialized "training of trainers" programs should be established to support training at the national and enterprise levels. New training approaches for existing environmentally sound practices should be developed that create employment opportunities and make maximum use of local resource-based methods.
  • Countries should strengthen or establish practical training programs for graduates from vocational schools, high schools and universities, in all countries, to enable them to meet labor market requirements and to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Training and retraining programs should be established to meet structural adjustments which have an impact on employment and skill qualifications.
What the Agenda 21 is telling us is that all sectors of society, particularly the academic sector, have various roles to play in relation to efforts aim at promoting sustainable development -- which will hopefully translate into actual improvements in the integrity of our environment. But there is also a need to be creative in choosing the roles that will best respond to the actual needs of the community. Here is a proposed process by which schools can determine their role in enhancing the integrity of the environment:
  • Count your blessings by assessing your capacities in terms of strengths and opportunities for improvement;
  • Know your stakeholders and other interested parties or those who will be your partners or beneficiaries in your undertaking;
  • Learn from your stakeholders by securing their inputs about your program or project areas that are relevant to their needs, and
  • Involve your stakeholders by recognizing and tapping their capacities.
Another important approach in relation to continuing education, public awareness and training is role modeling. There is an opportunity for schools, in general, to serve as a model for ecological solid waste management and efficiency in the use of resources like water and energy, among others. In this way, schools practice what they preach. Role modeling is a good opportunity for schools to “walk the talk.”
[1] The author acknowledges his indebtedness to Prof. Dr. Florentino H. Hornedo for his insights and ideas that find place this paper.
[2] A minority worldview becomes dominant when it is sustained by State power. And by State power I mean the authority vested by people to their elected officials in government. The people's representatives are supposed to carry the worldview of the represented. But that is more fiction than fact in the country's political system. It is very rare that the people elect their true representatives in government. The general condition is that we elect those who do not necessarily share our world-view -- people who have a worldview of their own. When these people hold the mantle of power and authority, which constitutionally emanate from the sovereign Filipino people, the most likely result is that they institutionalize their own worldview at the people's expense. Hence, a worldview held by a powerful few could become a dominant worldview with the "consent of the governed."
[3] Prof. Dr. Manuel Dy Jr. shared his insights about the advantage of using native dialects in philosophic discourse to some philosophy students at Divine Word College of Tagbilaran way back in 1990.
[4] Ludwid Edelstein, “Motives and Incentives for Science in Antiquity” in Scientific Change. Historical Studies of the Intellectual, Social and Technical Conditions for Scientific Discovery and Technical Invention from Antiquity to the Present (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1963), 15-41.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia in the Southern Spring of 1995. Thomas Berry, in his address to the Harvard Seminar on Environmental Values at Harvard University on April 9, 1996 explained why the indigenous peoples are capable of such an "environmental language" in contrast to contemporary peoples. He said: "Indigenous peoples are capable of such statements because they live in a functioning universe, in a cosmos. We no longer live in a universe, we live in cities or nations or civilizations or cultural traditions. We do not live in a significant manner with the wind or the rain or the stars in the sky. We recognize the dawn and sunset and the seasons of the years, yet these are only incidental to the major concerns of life. Our laws are the laws of human or of divine origin, they are not laws primarily of cosmological origin."
[7] Florentino H. Hornedo, Pagmamahal and Pagmumura Essays (Quezon City: ADMU-Office of Research and Pub., c. 1997), 37.
[8] Ibid., 4.
[9] Ludwid Edelstein, “Motives and Incentives for Science in Antiquity,” 15.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid., 16.
[12] Ibid., 22.
[13] See Summa Theological I, Q47, Art 1.
[14] Thomas Berry, The University: Its Response to the Ecological Crisis. A paper delivered before the Divinity School and the University Committee on Environment at Harvard University, April 11, 1996.
[15] See Summa Contra Gentiles Bk 2, Ch 45.
[16] Michael Carley and Ian Christie, Managing Sustainable Development (London: Earthscan Publications, Ltd., 1992), 63.
[17] Thomas Berry, Ethics and Ecology. A paper delivered to the Harvard Seminar on Environmental Values, Harvard University, April 9, 1996
[18] Carley and Christie, 71.
[19] Michael Barbour, "Ecological Fragmentation in the Fifties," in Uncommon Ground Rethinking the Human Place in Nature ed. William Cronon (New York and London: W.W. Norton and Company, c. 1996, 223-255.
[20] Carley and Christie, 77.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Ibid.
[23] J. Ronald Engel, “Introduction: The Ethics if Sustainable Development” in Ethics of Environment and Development. Global Challenge and International Response eds. J. Ronald Engel and J. Gibb Engel (London: Bellhaven Press, 1990, 1-23.
[24] IUCN, The World Conservation Strategy: Living Resource Conservation for Sustainable Development (Gland,
Switzerland: IUCN, 1980) cited in Engel and Engel.
[25] See Thomas Berry's paper
[26] Jacob Needleman, The Heart of Philosophy (San Francisco: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1982), p. 7
[27] Ibid., p. 155
[28] See Herman Daly, "The Steady-State Economy: Towards a Political Economy of Biophysical Equilibrium and Moral Growth" in Toward a Steady-State Economy (San Franscico: W.H. Freeman and Co., c. 1973), pp. 149-174
[29] See Tim Hayward, Ecological Thought, An Introduction (UK: Polity Press, c. 1994)
[30] See Joachim Ahrens, Prospects of Institutional and Policy Reform in India: Toward a Model of the Development State? in Asian Development Review, vol. 15, no. 1, 1997, pp. 111-146
[31] See Robert N. Stavins, Environmental Protection: Visions of Governance for the Twenty-First Century, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, July 23, 1998.
[32] See Yehezkel Dror, The Capacity to Govern, Report to the Club of Rome (Executive Summary). Ciculo de Lectores, July 1994.
[33] Ibid.
[34] See Andres Gouldie, Is a Good Government Agenda Practical? An Approach to Governance. Talk given at Overseas Development Institute, March 25, 19998.
[35] See David Reid, Sustainable Development An Introductory Guide (London: Earthscan Publications, Ltd., 1995

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