Ross School held a schoolwide teach-in last week for all students and faculty to learn more about urgent issues of global sustainability, and to empower students to effect positive change in our local and global communities.
Ross School Founder Courtney Sale Ross initiated this discussion three years ago, calling for K–12 education to address the issues affecting global climate challenges and the sustainability of our planet. She noted, “It is our moral and ethical duty to enhance curricular design in areas related to sustainability and climate change. Our goal is to promote a platform for action that results in the best quality of life possible for our students, and the global community.”
The day culminated in all students signing the Ross Declaration of Principles on Sustainability and the Environment.
Ross School and Ross Institute Declaration of Principles on Sustainability and the Environment
Preamble Guided by the Core Values of the Ross School, we, the members of the Ross School educational community—administrators, staff, teachers, students, and parents—are compelled to address the urgent issues of global environmental change and sustainability that face our planet and our species in the coming century and beyond.
In the context of sustainability—both environmental and cultural—these seven values demand that we face these issues with a sense of respect for all life and gratitude for the natural systems that sustain us; an attitude of mindfulness of our special place in the world and our special responsibility to care for the Earth; and with commitments to international cooperation, institutional integrity, and individual courage to guide our actions.
In accordance with these values, and with our mission to change the way education meets the future; to foster interdisciplinary, integrated thinking and innovative leadership; to engage fully in the global community; and to facilitate lifelong learning, we affirm and declare the following principles concerning the sustainability of our global environment.
- Every living organism has inherent value, and the stability of our planetary biosphere depends on maintaining Earth’s biodiversity and the viability of its diverse ecological systems.
- Every individual has the right to access and use natural resources to meet their basic needs, and to live in an environment that supports their physical and spiritual well-being.
- Every human culture has value, and because of the interdependence of cultural and ecological systems, the long-term sustainability of human cultures depends upon the stability of the global environment and the preservation of natural resources.
- Human beings are causing environmental changes that have the long-term capacity to significantly alter the climate of our planet as a whole, damage the integrity of important ecosystems, and threaten the health and security of human societies globally.
- Conditions of poverty exacerbate issues of environmental and cultural instability and make impoverished communities even more more vulnerable to these changes.
- Individuals, institutions, and governments all have a responsibility to safeguard the global environment, to protect the diversity of the biosphere and the diversity of human culture, and to preserve the Earth’s natural and cultural resources for future generations.
- The pursuit of robust and collaborative solutions to global problems of sustainability necessitates a recognition of and respect for the perspectives of multiple individuals, cultures, and disciplines.
- Solving these problems and transitioning our global society in the direction of a more sustainable relationship with the natural environment demands changes not only in education and policy but also in our values, as well as the ability to communicate and cooperate across disciplinary, cultural, and political boundaries.
In accordance with the above values and principles, we agree and commit to do the following:
Project and promote a sense of responsibility for the global environment, and cultivate an attitude of respect and care for all living things.
Recognize and celebrate the cultural contributions, values, spiritual beliefs, and traditions of all human societies both past and present, and maintain respect for indigenous knowledge and experience.
Pursue an educational mission that explicitly prepares students to recognize, understand, and address issues of sustainability, climate change, and environmental degradation.
Cultivate intercultural understanding and respect for different points of view through education, service, cultural exchange, and international cooperation and dialogue around issues of sustainability and the environment.
Advocate for individual, corporate, and government policies that promote sustainable practices and which place concern for the local and global environment ahead of considerations of expediency, convenience, or personal or financial gain.
Minimize our own dependence on nonrenewable resources and, as much as possible, encourage practices that rely on conservation, reuse, recycling, and the adoption of energy-efficient technologies in order to reduce our ecological footprint.
Promote individual wellness and the responsible use of global resources by encouraging a diet consisting of regional, organic, sustainable, and seasonal foods.
Seek out opportunities as individuals and institutions to engage in meaningful service that promotes sustainability both locally and globally, and advances knowledge about environmental and ecological issues.
Support causes and policies that promote universal human rights, social justice, equality, prosperity, and peace worldwide.