EVENT / THEMES
TEXT SOFIA MURSULA
I once attended a university course where the lecturer described sustainability as an AALTO STOOL 60. It has three legs, each representing a dimension of sustainability: environment, economy, and society. If you cut away one of them, the stool won’t stand up.
Sustainability often isn’t easy to define or measure. It includes huge topics like inequality and climate change. These issues tend to be interconnected and raise ethical questions, and may conflict with our personal goals and values. It can be possible to find solutions to these problems, but they often require flexibility, adaptation and reorientation from individuals and societies.
This flexibility is unlikely to come through by forcing. Rather, insecurity and threats can lead us to turn into ourselves and hold on to our gained benefits as hard as we can.
So, how to promote flexibility? I would go for connection, support, and understanding our dependence on the surrounding world. If we see ourselves separate from other people or the rest of the natural world, it is not likely for us to change our way of thinking or living, in ways necessary for contributing to sustainability.
Empathy towards other people and understanding of the world around us are the most important things about sustainability. The better we understand that our lives depend on others, the more we want to do for common good. The better the communication, cooperation and trust, the more will the individual gain, too.
The relationship between learning and sustainability is two-way. On the one hand, making learning possible for everyone promotes sustainability; by learning new skills and communicating with others it is possible, for example, to reduce poverty, promote participation in decision-making, and take care of nobody being left out. On the other hand, learning about sustainability can encourage us to act towards it. At Dare to Learn, we will focus on both these viewpoints and work on topics like futures thinking, financial literacy, and circular economy.
Who and what are contributing to the three legs of the stool of sustainability?
If one of the legs is broken, are we able to fix it?