Humans are Extraordinary, but Need a Change in Mindset

Humans are Extraordinary, but Need a Change in Mindset Patrick Blessinger, Abhilasha Singh, Fareeda Khodabocus, and Amudha Poobalan Humans are an extraordinary species in many ways. From their modest beginnings along the East African Rift many millennia ago, humans have evolved to develop some remarkable traits – physical, mental, and social. As a result, not only have humans become the most dominant species on the planet, but they have also become by far its most intelligent, imaginative, adaptable, and resourceful species. This outcome is the result of some very fortuitous events that have happened to humans along their evolutionary pathway. Over the course of their evolution, humans have hit the evolutionary super jackpot several times (perhaps a one hundred trillion to one outcome) when they developed the following advantageous traits, among others: bipedalism, opposable thumbs, the hyoid bone, and, consequently, big and powerful brains. For example, bipedalism is likely the foremost characteristic that put hominids on [...]

What universities can do to mainstream sustainable development

What universities can do to mainstream sustainable development Patrick Blessinger and Barbara Cozza Note: This article first appeared in the December 2021 issue (Vol. 26 No. 2) of IAU Horizons. By and large, human beliefs, attitudes and mindsets drive human behaviours. Thus, the future of humanity, and the planet they inhabit, will ultimately depend on humanity’s ability to adopt a sustainability mindset in order to solve the most intractable issues of our time (for example, poverty, illiteracy, species extinction, resource depletion, climate change). Within this context, higher education, as a catalyst for economic and social progress, can and should lead the world to achieve a sustainable future with the support of the UN framework Agenda 2030 and the sustainable development goals. The future of humanity, and the planet they inhabit, will ultimately depend on humanity’s ability to adopt a sustainability mindset in order to solve the most intractable issues of our time. Ultimately, [...]

New higher education literacies for a sustainable future

New higher education literacies for a sustainable future Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Mandla Makhanya As the world becomes more interconnected and interdependent, nations face increasing pressure to improve their political, economic, social, technological and environmental infrastructures in order to compete in an increasingly globalised world.  Within this context, perhaps the most fundamental and important component of any nation in the 21st century is its educational system. As societies become more complex – economically, socially, technologically and otherwise – so must their educational systems. To this end, nations have responded by creating diverse educational systems that now consist of many different types of educational institutions, including trade schools, technical colleges, community colleges, liberal arts colleges and research universities, among others.  In a complex society, a one-size-fits-all approach is unable to address all the varied needs of society. Therefore, a highly diverse educational system is seen by many as one of the keys to the promotion of economic [...]

Human Creativity as a Renewable Resource

Human Creativity as a Renewable Resource Patrick Blessinger1; Enakshi Sengupta2; Taisir Subhi Yamin3  1 St. John’s University, New York, USA 2 The International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL) 3 The International Centre for Innovation in Education (ICIE) Note: Originally published in: International Journal for Talent Development and Creativity – 6(1), August, 2018; and 6(2), December, 2018. Retrieved from https://www.patrickblessinger.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/IJTDC-612-December-2018.pdf Abstract This article is a scholarly essay that uses secondary data sources together with historical analysis to provide a broad overview of the development of humans throughout their long history on Earth, how humans have slowly decoupled themselves from the Darwinian evolutionary condition by developing language and intelligence which, in turn, has allowed them to adapt the environment to fit their needs instead of simply adapting themselves to fit the harshness of the natural environment and a survival of the fittest principle. Thus, unlike all non-human species, as human society continues to evolve, the [...]

Creative learning as a renewable resource

Creative learning as a renewable resource Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Taisir Subhi Yamin St John’s University, USA, The HETL Association, USA and the International Centre for Innovaton in Education A renewable resource is traditionally viewed in terms of renewable natural resources, but with the importance now placed on solving the huge problems associated with global climate change and on creative and interdisciplinary learning as a means to address these problems, it is now time for a broader definition of the term renewable resource. The imminent global problems facing the planet (for example, climate change, extreme poverty, hunger and the refugee crisis) and the complex and interconnected nature of those problems, precipitated by mass industrialisation, require a new way of thinking that makes creative learning and lifelong learning top priorities for educational systems around the world.  Thus, learning should be viewed as a renewable human resource since it provides an unlimited source of new ideas and problem-solving [...]

Higher education’s key role in sustainable development

Higher education’s key role in sustainable development Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Mandla Makhanya St John’s University, New York City, USA, American University of Kurdistan, and University of South Africa The United Nations defines sustainable development as “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.  As such, sustainable development not only deals with environmental issues, but economic, social and cultural issues as well. Given the increased demands placed on societies and the environment due to, among other factors, increased human migration, increased urbanisation and industrialisation as well as the ongoing depletion of non-renewable resources, it is clear that global action is needed to create a more sustainable future. Given its primary role as knowledge producer, higher education can serve as a powerful means to help create a more sustainable future. Thus, the concept of ‘education for sustainable development’ has become, in recent [...]

Implementation of sustainable development goals and mountain targets in particular through student engaged learning

Implementation of sustainable development goals and mountain targets in particular through student engaged learning Baktybek Abdrisaev, Rusty Butler, Kimberly Williamson, Yanko Dzhukev, Damon Ashcraft, Samuel Elzinga and Andrew Jensen Utah Valley University, USA Three Utah Valley University (UVU) students spoke through the student engaged learning initiative during general debates at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) on July 19, 2018. The HLPF is the main UN platform on sustainable development to follow up and review the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the global level. This year, 47 countries presented Voluntary National Reviews on how they implemented six particular SDGs in their respective countries among the 17 adopted by the UN. A handful of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with ECOSOC were selected to speak on those topics as well, including the [...]

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