Sustainability and the Humanities: Greening the University Curriculum

By Thomas Arthur Boogaart.

Published by The International Journal of Humanities Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Mounting environmental concerns have given momentum to the sustainable university concept, which has precipitated a significant “greening” of campus infrastructure over the last decade. The increasing corporatization of universities often leads to an emphasis on the production of research that contributes towards greening the economy without any collateral effort to cultivate environmental literacy among students. In supporting technocratic approaches to sustainability, however, the university implicitly affirms the capitalist system and promotes modern life’s characteristic alienation. Among the university community itself, sustainability tends to garner more support from the natural and social sciences than the humanities, but segregated scientific approaches to environmental management will not illuminate the intimate connections between modern patterns of life and global environmental degradation. The humanities, in contrast, could instill a deeper appreciation for sustainability by exploring the modern system from divergent historical, philosophical, and moral points of view, enabling a more far reaching ‘greening’ of the university curriculum.

Keywords: Sustainability, Humanities, Sustainability Education, Ecological Literacy, Environmental Awareness, Active Learning, Talloires Declaration, Curricular Reform

The International Journal of Humanities Education, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp.49-62. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 242.537KB).

Dr. Thomas Arthur Boogaart

Part-time Professor, Department of History, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I hold advanced degrees in history and geography. My research has focused on diverse realms of environmental history, including the intersections between global history and environmental policy. My interest in the academy and the sustainable university concept derives from different origins including an earlier article surveying this question along with personal experience holding teaching portfolios in different departments at several universities.