Theme 1: We Are in a Unique Period of Planetary Change
Never before has human existence on earth required us to see the planet as one interconnected system. Recognizing this fact is at the forefront of meta-education thinking.
The term “globalization” is now familiar and mainstream. A Google search defines globalization as “the word used to describe the growing interdependence of the world's economies, cultures, and populations, brought about by cross-border trade in goods and services, technology, and flows of investment, people, and information.” However, globalization as a concept is incomplete and misleading. It fails to account for the world as a finite resource.
In his book Education in a Time Between Worlds, author Zachary Stein provides a name and definition for this unique period of time; Anthropocene. “From the Greek roots anthropo, meaning “human,” and –cene, meaning “new,” this term is now being used to mark a formal unit of ecological time suggesting that humanity has so impacted the Earth’s basic physical constituents (especially its atmosphere and chemical composition) that our age constitutes a new geological phase of planetary development.” Stein p. 67
There are limits to which the earth can sustain economic growth that doesn’t account for the impact of resource extraction and environmental damage on global populations and overall sustainability. Ongoing efforts to remediate the increasingly overwhelming impacts of globalization largely fail to acknowledge how unique this period of time is. In doing so, we remain susceptible to “solutions” through modifications to the same system structures that are causing the problems we need to address. It is therefore necessary to recognize the uniqueness of this time period to advance the type of system thinking that can support planetary sustainability.