Sustainability is often regarded solely as an environmental objective. This perspective, however, is far too narrow to address the complex issues humanity faces today. The term “integrated sustainability” encourages a broader interpretation of what sustainability is and what is needed to achieve it, bringing together four dimensions of sustainability: the social, the economic, the environmental, and the cultural.
The word “integrated” means to make into a whole by bringing all parts together, or to unify. Through whole-systems thinking sustainability becomes rooted in a holistic worldview that invites a broader range of individuals to become inspired by and contribute towards a sustainable future.
A bit of philosophy.... NextGEN sees the ecovillage as a powerful model to learn from. NextGEN does not wish for everyone to up and move to an ecovillage, nor necessarily begin one of his or her own. The idea, rather, is to make ecovillages modern and highly accessibly centers of education. We want these to be places where people can easily come for a short visit, take a course, or participate in a work-exchange program. Then we wish such individuals to go back to their home communities, or continue to travel, all the while sharing want they have learnt from their community experience. It is hoped that an in-depth educational experience immersed in an alternative lifestyle will create the kind of cultural shift a privileged young person may experience their first time traveling to a developing country.
Once these individuals are “awakened” to an alternative way of being, NextGEN hopes to continue to support these young people in their journey by building a community of like-minded peers and creating opportunities for further engagement in this movement. Practically, this may look like connecting a young person who has just completed our Sustainability Education Workshop with an Ecovillage Ambassador in a community nearby.
Our goal is to support and empower every young person who participates in one of our programs.
Our "integrated sustainability" and other educational programs are certified as Inspired by Gaia Education. Gaia's world renowned Ecovillage Design Education Course (EDE) was part of the inspiration behind NextGEN developing a curriculum teaching the four dimensions of sustainability. In NextGEN's programs we focus on the needs and great capacities of young people to live out these dimensions.