The challenge of Global Empowerment: Education for a Sustainable Future, Annotated Bibliography

Hiroko Yoshimura, Akiko Toya, and Masanobu Okada

The challenge of Global Empowerment: Education for a Sustainable Future-Ikeda

The Challenge of Global Empowerment: Education for a Sustainable Future was given by Daisaku, Ikeda at the world summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. The first and the second chapter in this article mainly talks about the role of education for people to recognize the importance of sustainable development. In this article, Ikeda defines sustainability as “The concept of sustainability encompasses not only environment but also poverty, population, health, food security, democracy, human rights and peace” (p.39). In order to achieve sustainable development, Ikeda strongly appeals ‘active response’ toward environmental issues. This active response could be “Refusal to be passive observer or victim of circumstances-not only at the governmental level but also at the grassroots level of civil society” (p.36). Through examination of the concept of sustainability and need for the issues, Ikeda concludes that education could be the vital method to achieve a sustainable human society and international cooperation toward the dissemination of environmental information.
At practical level, sustainable development should be promoted with the following three goals in mind: to learn and deepen awareness of environmental issues and realities, to reflect on our modes of living, to renew these toward sustainability, and to empower people to take concrete action to resolve the challenges that we face. First, to learn is essential to deepen understanding and awareness. Everything starts from grasping basic facts, as well as understanding the causes and social structures in which the problem occurs. At the same time, it is also important that grassroots movements develop opportunities that encourage a deeper understanding of the global environmental crisis. Second, to reflect on our modes of living is crucial in order to clarify the ethical values we share and improve it. The Declaration proclaimed at Thessaloniki Conference states; “Sustainability is a moral and ethical imperative in which cultural diversity and traditional knowledge need to be respected.” Based on a sense of responsibility toward the future, we need to transform market into friendly competition that makes people realize that they are responsible for community and future generations. In conclusion, cyclical movement – viewing the world from the perspective of the local community, looking at the community through the lens of the world – is vital if we are to develop an ethical understanding, to grasp the concrete realities of community, and to sharpen the awareness of global environment.
Ikeda, then, goes on to talk about the third goal, which is “to empower people to take concrete action to resolve the challenges we face” (p. 1). In other words, to take concrete action, people need to be “empowered with courage and hope,” otherwise, we will not be able to practice sustainable development. He further talks about three modes of living, dependent, independent, and contributive. Passive, according to him, is not good as it lacks sense of self and one would like at the mercy of changing circumstances. On the other hand, independent mode of living might sound good, but one would lack the awareness of the realities and needs of others. Contributive way of living, he states, is based on the awareness of the interdependent nature of our lives. Such a mode of living would appreciate unity and connectedness of life and would practice sustainable development.

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