What might a smart paradigm include?

by Paula Williams

Dr. Williams wrote her dissertation on The role of social paradigm in human perception and response to environmental change. She is the director of UAA’s Office of Sustainability. Her previous post on this topic appears here: http://prosperouswaydown.com/williams-not-economy-paradigm/

If not a stupid paradigm, then, as previously described, what might a smart paradigm include?

Many people who live in societies that embrace the western industrial dominant social paradigm don’t subscribe to that paradigm in whole or in part.  Many realize, or sense, that our current paradigm threatens our ability to survive long-term.  Our current paradigm tells us that the economy must continuously grow; that the role of government is to enforce contracts and keep it’s regulatory hands off of business; that technology will save us, particularly from our environmental sins; that humans are the most important forms of life; and that competition is the best way to manage systems and people.

Because this paradigm shapes the way most people think about how the world works and even shapes our living space (for example, with an emphasis on roads and driving) it won’t be easy to change.  But since not changing it will clearly impact whether we survive into the future and what future life for our children and grandchildren will look like, changing the paradigm, or trying, is a moral imperative.  First we need to consider what a new paradigm should look like. Continue reading What might a smart paradigm include?

It’s not the economy, it’s the stupid paradigm

By Paula Williams

Dr. Williams wrote her dissertation on The role of social paradigm in human perception and response to environmental change. She is the director of UAA’s Office of Sustainability.

Americans’ level of concern for the environment waxes and wanes, depending on how the economy is faring, as illustrated in the 2011 Gallup chart below.  The chart shows responses to the question whether the economy or the environment should be given preference asked from 1985 through 2011. Note the trending decline in concern for the environment starting in 2001 with a precipitous drop in 2008 when the economy hit the skids. It’s a truism that our environmental behaviors and our understanding of causes of environmental degradation always lag behind the level of our environmental concern.  Why? Continue reading It’s not the economy, it’s the stupid paradigm