Excellence Reporter: Professor Agyeman, what is the meaning of life?
Julian Agyeman: To me, the meaning of life is the imperative to embark on a journey toward planetary flourishing.
We must do this in a sustainable manner, ensuring a better quality of life for all, now, and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems. This means understanding that we must use our unlimited mental and creative resources, not our limited critical natural resources.
To do this we need to rethink our current, limited understanding of ‘education’ and develop more constructive ways to unleash these phenomenal mental and creative resources, and we must do this quickly.
Currently, around the globe we waste human potential as wantonly and comprehensively as we lay waste to our environmental potential, and this is no surprise, as both actions are directly and inextricably interrelated.
We need to understand that under the current hegemonic neoliberal world economic order there is rapidly growing human inequality and rapidly deteriorating environmental quality. We need to redouble our efforts toward flourishing: developing the capabilities and potential in all humans in order to live productively in a convivial manner within environmental limits. Failure to do so will end our ability to approach anything near the just and sustainable futures we are fully capable of.
~Julian Agyeman is a Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, USA. He is the originator of the concept of ‘just sustainabilities,’ the intentional integration of social justice and sustainability, defined as ‘the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.’
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