Urban Sustainability:Theoretical and Empirical
Understanding the Social Dimension of Sustainability:
The Fundamental Role of K-12 Education
Veronica Dujon, Ph.DChair, Department of Sociology
2nd Annual Sustainable Schools- Sustainable Solutions Conference Gladstone, OR, June 19th, 2012
What is the ‘environment?
Nature, and/or the places we live, work, go to school, play?
Environment is integral to where people live and increasing so in urban areas
Environmental Racism: Decisions that unfairly expose people to polluted or degraded environments on the basis of race
Environmental Justice-advocates for quality education, employment, and housing, as well as the health of physical environments in which individuals, families and groups live (Bullard: 1990).
Environmental Equity: equal protection from environmental hazards
refers to both the processes that create, and the institutions that facilitate, social health and wellbeing both now and in the future,
recognizing that attaining social sustainability requires achieving both economic and environmental sustainability (Dillard, Dujon, King., 2009).
Social sustainability is development that is:
• compatible with the harmonious evolution of civil society, fostering an environment conducive to compatible cohabitation of culturally and socially diverse groups
(Polese & Stren (2000) The Social Sustainability of Cities: Diversity
• while at the same time encouraging social integration,
• with improvements in the quality of life for all segments of the population.”
Stress two main ideas:• integration, as inclusion of all citizens from
different social and cultural backgrounds in urban life; and
• equity, as equal access to resources and services
Education: Critical Social Resource
•Education is the preeminent aspect of social stratification in the U.S.
•Education is the chief way children rise above their status origins
(Mirowsky and Ross 2005)
• Education improves people´s quality of life, facilitates their resilience in responding to the impact of changing conditions in the world around them
• Education is an individual benefit as well as a communal good
The Role/Value of K-12 Education
• A foundation/building block for promoting good citizenship
• Exposes students to new ways of thinking and seeing the world
• Promotes sensitivity and understanding of the world (natural/built) in which we live
• Relies on a range of pedagogical approaches to encourage and reinforce learning