In 2003 Maharishi University of Management inaugurated the first 4-year sustainable living undergraduate degree in the U.S. Seven years later, sustainability has gone mainstream; and the Sierra Club is recognizing Maharishi University of Management as one of America’s coolest non-conformist schools for it’s approach to sustainability education.
When the Sustainable Living program at Maharishi University of Management (MUM) started, “green” was not an over-used buzzword and sustainability was anything but a topic for dinner conversation. Now, an increasing number of educational institutions and businesses are “greening” their operations. In most neighborhoods, you can’t step outside your house without seeing recycling and energy efficiency initiatives. Re-thinking how we use natural resources is definitely a part of sustainability education at MUM. In addition to these external considerations of sustainability MUM offers students the opportunity, in fact requires students, to subjectively explore the interconnectedness of all life through the practice of Transcendental Meditation.
MUM’s Consciousness-Based educational approach to learning gives students the opportunity to expand their awareness and align their lives with nature. The Sustainable Living department at MUM believes that developing sustainable businesses, societies, and communities is dependent upon those entities being comprised of highly developed individuals. The great systems thinker Russell Ackoff said that “development is an increase in competence, in the ability to satisfy your needs and desires, and those of others.” This expansive approach to sustainable living can be referred to as “inner sustainability.”
Another aspect to sustainability education at MUM is “deep sustainability.” Deep sustainability recognizes that there is a difference between doing things right and doing the right thing. Shallow sustainability focuses on doing things right with efficiency and substitution techniques. For example, a shallow sustainability approach to the transportation crisis focuses on creating increasingly efficient cars that run on alternative fuels. A deep sustainability approach would seek to create a high quality of life where people are able to meet their needs close to where they live so that the need for automobile transportation is reduced, if not eliminated. MUM strives to give students the ability to implement efficiency and substitution solutions in the short term while concurrently looking at the world from a deeply sustainable, transformative, radical system-redesign perspective.
It is the combination of deep sustainability and inner sustainability that sets MUM a part from other schools offering “green” education. It is also part of the reason that the Sierra Club featured MUM as a non-conformist school as part of their “America’s Coolest Schools” round-up. Check out the other reasons Sierra Club considers MUM a cool non-conformist.
|Anna Bruen is a MUM alumnus who graduated with a degree in Sustainable Living. Anna is the resident blogger here at MUM. To learn more about Anna take a look at her introduction post.|