Creating bridges between environmental and technological education

The manner in which we design, use and discard technological products is central to the sustainability crisis. The quality of life of future generations will largely depend on how well educators nurture not only technological ingenuity, but also the social ingenuity required to transform unsustainable technological practices into more sustainable ones. The rapid transition toward more sustainable forms of production and consumption is no longer a utopian ‘green option’, but a pragmatic necessity to ensure a viable future for all peoples. Traditionally environmental education has focused largely on social innovation, while technological education has focused almost exclusively on technological innovation and ingenuity. Given that all technologies have the potential to create adverse environmental ‘ripples’, and the fact that some are at times demonized, a ‘restorative’ perspective of technology hold great promise for advancing the goal of sustainability in the built environment. Instead of turning young people away from technological development, a more crucial question is; how can we prepare young people to design and critically explore emerging technologies in ways which are socially just and environmentally progressive? Drawing on Canadian research participants will be encouraged to consider the nature of the questions, scenarios and pedagogical tools educators might use to bring the unsustainable ‘environmental wake’ of many existing technological systems and lifestyles into conscious focus for young people. The presentation will also survey some of the key emerging interdisciplinary revolutions in genetic, robotic, manufacturing and information technologies that have the potential to dramatically reduce our collective ecological footprint.