Submitted by Arthur Dahl on 5. June 2011 - 18:40
e-learning centre on sustainable development


Heading: Develoment    Topic: Education

Education is fundamental to human sustainability. No individual person is sustainable; we shall all die sooner or later. Sustainability in society only comes through the successful transmission of our knowledge, culture, experience and values from generation to generation, and this is the purpose of education. Knowledge plays a central role in human life and human society. The process of generating, transmitting and applying knowledge lies at the heart of civilization. Social advancement, including economic, political, and social change, flows from it. Everyone should acquire knowledge, particularly of those sciences and crafts that are profitable to society.

"Reality is one, and when truth is investigated and ascertained, it will lead to individual and collective progress. In the quest for truth, science and religion – the two systems of knowledge available to humankind – must closely and continuously interact. The insights and skills that represent scientific accomplishment must look to the force of spiritual commitment and moral principle to ensure their appropriate application....

"The development of a global society calls for the cultivation of capacities far beyond anything the human race has so far been able to muster. The challenges ahead will require an enormous expansion in access to knowledge on the part of individuals and organizations alike. Universal education will be an indispensable contributor to this process of capacity building, but the effort will succeed only to the extent that both individuals and groups in every sector of society are able to acquire knowledge and to apply it to the shaping of human affairs.

"Education must be lifelong. It should help people to develop the knowledge, values, attitudes and skills necessary to earn a livelihood and to contribute confidently and constructively to shaping communities that reflect principles of justice, equity and unity. It should also help the individual develop a sense of place and community, grounded in the local, but embracing the whole world. Successful education will cultivate virtue as the foundation for personal and collective well-being, and will nurture in individuals a deep sense of service and an active commitment to the welfare of their families, their communities, their countries, indeed, all mankind. It will encourage self-reflection and thinking in terms of historical process, and it will promote inspirational learning through such means as music, the arts, poetry, meditation and interaction with the natural environment." (Bahá'í International Community, 1998).

Such a broad approach to value-based education will produce individuals for whom living sustainably will come naturally. The ability to combine a scientific understanding of the planet and its systems with a deep human concern for all humankind will empower each person with the insight and creativity to find the sustainable solutions appropriate to each local situation.


Bahá'í International Community 1998. Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development. A concept paper written for the World Faiths and Development Dialogue, Lambeth Palace, London, 18-19 February 1998. Bahá'í Publishing Trust, London.

Article last updated 30 June 2006

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Last updated 30 August 2010