Repointing the Ivory Tower: Designing for Relevancy, Efficacy, Humility in view of the Great Turning

By Jonathan M. Scherch.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

With the coming peak petroleum era, or Great Turning (Korten, 2007), where social, economic and environmental effects of diminishing petroleum-based resources present adaptive challenges for individuals, organizations, and communities, the importance of educating for sustainability is evident. Hence, universities will assume new roles, nurture and leverage available resources and creatively engage campus communities to meet demands amid acute energy transitions, evolving effects of climate change and related social transformations. Indeed, all educational institutions will need to ably demonstrate efficacy in harmonizing campus mission, priorities and interdisciplinary curricula with emerging community needs, interests and collective expectations. Accordingly, this paper will introduce and discuss ecological design strategies for use in service of effective integration of classroom, campus and community contexts for sustainability. Citing first-hand accounts, the author will present and discuss examples in the United States and China, highlighting features of ecological design innovations, associated curriculum attributes and anticipated learning outcomes, and prospective community collaborations. The paper will include recommendations and references for future work.

Keywords: Ecological Design, Social Work, Sustainability, Innovation, Permaculture, Integrated Systems, Scherch

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 1, Issue 5, pp.7-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.154MB).

Dr. Jonathan M. Scherch

Core Faculty, Graduate Programs in Environment & Community, Center for Creative Change, Antioch University Seattle, Seattle, Washington, USA

Since 1998, I have served as Core Faculty at Antioch University Seattle within the Center for Creative Change (C3), and presently for a 12-member, university-wide Sustainability Taskforce. My teaching, research and consulting includes themes of social work and sustainable community innovations, integrated resource systems and ecological (permaculture) design, environmental education and leadership, organizational development and community readiness for climate change and peak/post-petroleum futures, international bamboo cultures and sustainable “guild” cooperatives. Website:


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