Sustainable Development and Learning: Framing the Issues

By Neil Chalmers; William Scott et al. | Go to book overview

12

Economic behaviour

Value and values

Introduction

In Chapter 11 we argued that achieving sustainable development is not about achieving a triumph of collaboration and egalitarianism, on the one hand, over competition and market individualism on the other, nor an equally triumphal reverse of this, nor, again, a state of balance between the two. However, it is not surprising that debates about sustainable development seem so often to be framed in terms of this 'dichotomy'. As the psychologist Helen Haste (2000 and chapter 12 of the companion reader) points out, dichotomous thinking, according to which a given entity at a given time cannot simultaneously be in a given state and also not be in that state, is very deeply rooted in Western minds. Whether this Aristotelian precept is ultimately true or not, it clearly leads to faulty thinking when applied to something like 'society', the nature of which is conceptual, not physical. So, if we consider two archetypes, one of a 'competitive' society (say, the United States of America) and the other one founded on principles of cooperation and equality (say, Soviet-era Russia), what we actually find in both at the micro-level is abundant evidence of both competitive and collaborative social interaction. Where people cannot compete through markets they usually find other ways to compete for favour and favours. When they are required to compete through markets they often look for collaborative ways to achieve advantage, or take comfort in non-competitive relationships and alliances. In both cases they may well appeal to, make, break, uphold or seek to change systems of rules which they find helpful, or value for their own sakes. Our question would therefore be not: 'what balance of competition and collaboration is compatible with sustainable development?' but rather 'how do we make sustainable development happen where both are constantly present?' In seeking an answer, we need to explore the issue of the relationship between, on the one hand, human values and, on the other, what has value in the economic sense.


A search for 'compromise'

In fact, although we have argued it is fundamental misconceived, there is at the time of writing considerable evidence of a search for compromise between the advocates of competition and collaboration. In Chapter 3 we considered the language of sustainable development. We now suggest that sustainable development requires, if

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Sustainable Development and Learning: Framing the Issues
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Authors' Introduction xiii
  • 1 - Framing the Issues 1
  • 2 - The Policy Context 12
  • 3 - Language and Meaning 23
  • 4 - Learning and Sustainable Development 31
  • 5 - Humans and Nature 44
  • 6 - Theory and Practice 56
  • 7 - Management of Learning 66
  • 8 - Curriculum and Pedagogy 78
  • 9 - Measuring Learning 87
  • 10 - Monitoring and Evaluation 97
  • 11 - Building Capacity, Developing Agency 110
  • 12 - Economic Behaviour 120
  • 13 - Globalisation and Fragmentation 133
  • 14 - What Happens Next? 143
  • References 148
  • Index 161
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