Leading for Sustainability in US Public Schools: Challenges and Drivers

John Hardman, Ph.D.

The purpose of this pilot study has been to explore, through semi-structured interviews, the personal journeys of sustainability champions in schools and districts from their initial awareness of the broader importance of sustainability as a core principle to the processes and strategies they are applying for their successful implementation in their respective organizations.

The study sought to explore how these teachers and administrators have been able to overcome internal and external tensions and challenges, particularly those having to do with the implementation at the state and district level of the Common Core State Standards and their associated accountability measures. The investigation revealed a number of powerful drivers that are making it possible for teachers, administrators, and district officials to generate the necessary momentum to implement sustainability practices in their schools and districts despite some of these tensions.

Finally, the study sought to assess the extent to which these best practices have taken root in the collective culture of schools and districts by evaluating the ’embeddedness’ of the principles of sustainable development, sustainability, or regeneration in policy, curriculum, community engagement, and facilities operations and management.

To access the study, please click here.


Upcoming June 30: The Regenerative Empowerment Program

Free Introductory Session

Program Facilitators
John Hardman, Ph.D. and Patricia Hardman
Co-founders of PureField, LLC and Regenerative Organizations, LLC

Experience how to transform your life, your organization, and your community for regeneration and sustainability while empowering the unique purpose of your higher self.

Join us to learn why and how the consciousness technologies available to us all in the zero-point field of the heart are the key to regenerating our lives, our organizations, our communities, and our world for the present and future generations.

For an overview of the program click here

We will open and close with guided meditations to enhance the tone and quality of the conversation.

Refreshments will be served

Date: Sunday, June 30, 5:00 pm
Location: Project Mate Bar
314 NE 4th St., Delray Beach, FL 33444
RSVP: 561.926.0605 – 561.789.9418

Cost of the 6-week Program: $660
Early payment: $600
Payment options available

Education for Sustainable Development at AACTE National Conference Feb 28 – Mar 2, 2013

Leadership nurturing plant

Special Study Group on Education for Sustainable Development

Bringing together representatives from Colleges of Education from around North America, the annual conference of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) is the largest of its kind. One of its more recent and welcome innovations has been the creation of the Special Study Group on Education for Sustainable Development.

Consisting of a growing group of committed educators from a broad range of disciplines and institutions, the study group’s purpose is “to provide a forum for teacher educators interested in integrating sustainability into the pre-service and on-going professional developlment of preK-12 teachers.” After this most recent round of meetings, this purpose will be expanded to include educational leadership and other fields of education in support of “a vision that seeks to balance human and economic well-being with cultural traditions and respect for natural resources.”

The group’s executive committee is currently building a national and international network of alliances with groups such as UNESCO’s initiative on Education for Sustainable Development and the Associaton for the Advancement of Education in Higher Education (AASHE).

In the near future, the group will establish an online presence designed to welcome all higher education faculty to share research and best practices in curriculum and professional develolpment. This is a group to follow.

PureField: Consciousness Development as Applied Technology for Sustainability

Emerging from the energy work we have been conducting on ourselves and with others, PureField is fast becoming an initiative we want to share more broadly in order to engage in a conversation and practice for deep regeneration and sustainability. As we state on our website at http://purefieldweb.com:

PureField is designed to be a transformative spiritual resource through the co-creation of experiences centered in the heart. Our intent is to reach a deeper understanding of our evolutionary journey leading to lasting individual and social transformation. We base this intent on three universal principles shared by all beings:

   ♦ The right to connect to the universal light or energy that sustains all existence.
   ♦ The right of every individual to learn and evolve.
   ♦ The inviolability of individual free will.
These core principles underlie our unlimited potential to fulfill our life purpose and our highest aspirations. They are activated from our source of consciousness, seated in the area of our heart.  Why is this important? The heart is the engine that sustains our physical bodies and its energy (morphic) field entrains the frequencies of the brain’s waves. As heart and mind learn to operate together at higher levels of resonance, great things begin to happen.
One key practice to achieving this higher level is meditation. Through meditation we are able to access the essence of who we are. When we meditate from the center of the heart – the zero-point field – we are able to reconnect to our essential being. In this enlightened state, we become more able to clarify the meaning and purpose of our lives, and we can tap into the field of unlimited possibilities in order to manifest healthier, more abundant outcomes.
A second key practice is the development of what we have called consciousness technology tools that serve to remove old emotional and mental patterns from our morphic field, redirect our free will as the driver of our life goals, and raise the quality of our intention for improving the quality of life for all. 
For more information on our work, contact us at jhardman@regenerativeorganizations.com

The Return on Investment (ROI) of Conscious Intention in Sustainability Work

The secret life of the sustainability professional

It is undeniable that the financial returns provided by effective sustainability strategies and behaviors are a necessary objective if we are to succeed in scaling up sustainability as the smart mainstream operating system. Without a healthier economic engine driving what we do we won’t be around that much longer anyway. That said, we appear to be paying insufficient attention to the role of human consciousness, our inner operating system, in generating the behaviors necessary to create profitable and at the same time truly sustainable products, services, and communities. We appear stuck in the dilemma of trying to break away from business-as-usual while reinforcing profitability as the most important magnet for engaging in sustainability work.

If, for the sake of argument, we are at least willing to entertain this premise, the radical shift to integral rather than fragmented sustainability that is urgently needed may occur only in the face of catastrophic events that leave us with no viable alternative. A case in point can be seen in the massively supported but isolated global decision to phase out chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) in the 1980s to halt the depletion of the ozone layer. Perceived at the time as a potential human extinction event, it has been considered by many, including former UN Secretary Kofi Annan, as ‘perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date’ (see UN Montreal Protocol at http://www.theozonehole.com/montreal.htm). Can a generic term such as sustainability become an equally powerful and proactive call to action without a similar extinction-threatening event that forces us to react? Without a widespread return of our attention to developing ourselves as fully conscious beings who exercise our free will in a balanced pursuit of individual and common goals in harmony with natural law, the answer appears to be no.

The secret to this challenge lies in where we place our focus, on the driving inner forces that support this attention, and only then on the behaviors that emerge from the process. Focusing on behaviors rather than on where they are generated is hopelessly inadequate. Of course, if we are unaware or choose to ignore the multiple effects on others and the planet of a choice or a behavior, then we are able to continue exercising our intention to satisfy our needs and desires without a concern for consequences. In contrast, if we are fully aware of the effects of each and every one of our choices and behaviors, even to how they will affect us, then we are in a better position to exercise our conscious intention to amend and improve our behaviors in our personal lives, in our organizations, and our systems.

Why is it so hard to shift our attention from the external, measureable reality of the objective world to the inner reality where everything that happens outside is engendered? The easy answer is that it is hard to quantify the ROI, particularly short-term, of investing time and effort on intangibles that may or may not generate revenue. Also, it brings into play problematic dimensions of human experience such as spirituality, ethics, and consciousness development, which many consider as outside the scope of the sustainability professional’s work, particularly when we are told that financial returns are the most significant indicators of success.

This paradox of focus is at the heart of our crises. Whether we look at business, government, industry, education, healthcare, agriculture, we see failing systems grounded in a linear, mechanical, limited understanding of the universe’s operating system, and the fallout from this misguided view is clear to see. It has allowed us to lose sight of and interfere with the underlying operation and interconnectedness of natural and social systems, even when they are perfectly able to function in an abundant, healthy, and sustainable manner. Whether it’s a fiscal cliff, renewable energy, or new educational standards, we develop fragmented, temporary solutions that postpone rather than address the real issues that face us. In fact, we may not even know what these are. For example, the field of sustainability is often understood to work on integrating the principles of the triple bottom line – environment, society, and economics. This is only partly true, since the real purpose of sustainability is to secure wellbeing for present and future generations, and the triple bottom line is simply some of the means to get there. In reality, sustainability should be the operating principle of these systems that would make it possible for all living things to develop fully in accordance with their individual and collective purpose, free from economic, political, religious, ideological, or environmental injustice. If nature ever develops its alternative to Twitter, the Occupy Wall Street and Arab Spring movements will quickly fade from our collective memory as the planet rises up against us all.

An understanding of this paradox would lead us to the conclusion that the single, most effective way to restoring the health of the planet and of attaining human wellbeing may well be found in the inner work of consciousness development through our personal work, our education systems, our communities and the workplace. While not devoid of contradictions, organizations like Google have begun to embrace this concept by seeking to free up individual and collective creativity and imagination, faculties that have become marketable commodities more valuable than reason and logic. Meditation at Google is encouraged, and empowerment of the individual is matched with collaborative sharing of ideas to advance the company’s mission. This generative process, grounded in the spiritual work of individual transformation, may well be the next phase in our journey as a species.

From sustainability to regeneration to self-organizing systems

Regeneration of all too many of our failing societal systems cannot come from the top. While we may continue to talk about democracy and the free market as being the least objectionable systems we have, waiting on dysfunctional mega-bureaucracies like government, global agencies, international banking, finance and trade, entertainment, education, social security, and healthcare to provide desirable new futures for all is fast becoming delusional.

In the long run, pushback against unjust systems whose power is grounded in fear, greed, and self-perpetuation is inevitable, and the growing large-scale informal (actual and virtual) social networks bear witness to the fact that real change is occurring at the grassroots level. It is time to acknowledge that this may be the only level at which significant change is going to happen.

One of the more potentially interesting characteristics of these informal organizations is that they are self-organizing, rallying around a common cause that most often serves a higher purpose than mere self-interest. These movements have facilitators rather than leaders or even organizers, and leadership may shift from one day to the next, from one location to another as needed.

Incorporated organizations  of all types and sizes have much to learn from these new systems. One way to begin this journey to a new way of being and doing is to complete the Regenerative Capacity Index (RCI). This survey is designed to clarify the nature and quality of an organization’s awareness, commitment and active engagement in becoming a sustainable and regenerative force in its industry and community. It has been developed from systematic research and process consulting work with successful sustainability leaders in business, education, government, and community organizations since 2007. This instrument emerged from the Regenerative Leadership Framework (see Hardman, J. (2012). Leading for Regeneration: Going beyond sustainability in business, community, and education. London: Routledge).




The Impact Conference – Global Urban Sustainability Models – The Haiti Conference

With hundreds of leaders from dozens of countries, this year’s Sustainatopia in Miami is a great opportunity to meet leading representatives from multiple fields of sustainability, the sciences, technology, design, social and cultural entrepreneurship, and entertainment.

Join the Revolution for GOOD! Meet and network with sustainability leaders from around the world, and learn about their amazing efforts in changing the world for GOOD!

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