By coming together, we can shape a university that is affordable, inclusive, decolonized, and anti-racist, serving the needs of all who depend on it.
Only by attending to inequalities can universities do away with the carbon fetish and work for actual sustainability. University staff and students, embarked on a UK-wide strike against staff exploitation and rising costs, need to make this point loud and clear!
We are disappointed that our university, an influential institution with a moral obligation to lead by example, is so deeply involved in this industry and hope our report will act as a wake-up call, setting an agenda for change.
History matters. Black History Matters and it shapes the present and the future. That is one of the primary premises of the movement to ‘decolonise the curriculum’.
The assumption that the future is going to be just like the past is untenable. If we keep educating our students on the basis of this assumption, then that means we’re not preparing them for the world.
But a college that finds spiritual expression in service to the others with whom we live (human or other-than-human) and to the land beneath our feet, that scrutinises and decolonises itself without fragility, that privileges listening before speaking, and that acts mindfully and soulfully in the world, would be a college that meets the needs of the time.
This final part of the series presents a vision of new type of university, exemplified in the world-spanning Ecoversities Alliance, and dreamed of in Transition U and Eco Vista U, two prototypes that I am involved in co-creating with students, staff, faculty, and community members in Santa Barbara, California, and in the Transition US movement.
We are aiming high: to assist in laying the foundations for the establishment of an ongoing, multigenerational, student-community initiative for an equitable and just transition in Isla Vista, California, and to put the result, Eco Vista, forward as an experiential model that other small towns with college students might want to freely adapt for their communities.
So, how do we connect this many dots? Every movement, organization, systemic alternative, and countless activists, theorists, and intellectuals are asking this as the crisis unfolds.
The time has come to ask new questions of our own as teachers.
I believe that higher education would better serve students in particular and all humans in general if our teaching and research methods stop perpetuating the cultural paradigm that brought us to the brink of extinction and start encouraging students to imagine and create alternatives to it.
To return to the pre-coronavirus assumptions about the world is to return to a way of thinking and living that cannot be sustained and that will destroy the planet. We need to reinvent modern civilization and we need colleges and universities to take on a leadership role in this great task.
We need a form of civilization that co-exists with the nine million other species of life on this planet. We need a form of civilization that is socially just and does not equate human happiness and well-being with the endless consumption of material goods. The modern university, as it is currently configured, stands in the way of creating this form of civilization. Rethinking civilization requires rethinking higher education.