A few months ago, New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin suggested that we label the next generation with the letter E, for energy and environment.
I can’t keep track of what young people are being called these days after a string of “Generation [ ]” labels. But my vote would be Generation E, for energy and the environment, if initiatives at a host of schools around the United States are any indication.
I’ve heard more than a few sociologists and historians opine that we’re essentially going to have to grow past our fossil fuel norms and into a new relationship with energy in which environmental considerations are integrated seamlessly into how people make choices related to energy. Maybe this is starting to happen among those who will inherit the consequences of energy decisions being made (or not made) today?
From everything I've read about the sustainability movement within the higher education system, I've learned that in almost every instance the ones behind the push for change are the students. Most of them see clearly the importance of obtaining the knowledge they'll need to rebuild a broken world.
With support and knowledge from a few good teachers about human rights, environmental ethics and ecological limitations, students have come to realize their role and the necessity of pertinent action. That's why they are asking that their education reflect these things more cohesively.
Does that mean they deserve the label Generation E? Only because we've given them no other choice.
This post is part of a week-long series focusing on how universities around the globe are remodeling not only their campuses but also their curricula. For more ideas about what to study and where, or to join the debate, check out this week's feature, Majors Making a Difference.
Photo credit: Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times