May 8th, 2010

Landscape Transitions: Integration of Pedagogical Approaches for Sustainability in Tropical American Mountain Communities

By Dustin A. Menhart and Fausto Sarmiento


Tropical mountain communities are susceptible to natural hazards due to severe local landscape features.  In addition, their peripheral network of disaster mitigation can be meager leading to population loss, not only from the death toll of catastrophic episodes, but also, by overall attrition due to failing socioeconomic ventures that fuel emigration.  For sustainable development, ecological risk must be overcome in order to reduce vulnerability associated with uncertain social, political, and economic futures, thereby achieving a sustainable level of risk that will permit communities to exist in the long term.  Educational efforts should include different pedagogical approaches that will better aid environmental interpretation of land use management and technological implementation of land-hazard analysis.  This is the best way to understand landscape transitions, from isolated, unstable economies into a linked global production systems.  As previous environmental awareness fades, a new paradigm should include sustainability consciousness—from an economic and ecological perspective—as part of a trend towards securing a reliable and respectable future for mountain communities.

Sustainability is a governmental responsibility that can be addressed through education of young generations that includes the promotion of policies which generate sustainable economic practices. Purely technological solutions to combat poverty may not provide long-term solutions if changes in attitude are not prompted at an early age in the schooling of mountain communities’ youth.  Without sustainability education, the highland exodus towards the lowland plains will continue to rise.

Full PDF:  MenhartSarmiento2010

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