The Worth of the Earth: Does Your Economics Curriculum Know?

The Worth of the Earth: Does Your Economics Curriculum Know?

Earth Day is around the corner, and environmental lessons will take center stage in many science courses. But what about economics? You might be wondering what economics has to do with Earth Day. After all, isn’t consumption—a driver of the economy– harming the environment? That’s the conventional narrative. And it’s often true. But ironically, the economics curriculum itself can help change that. All it has to do is acknowledge and account for the worth of the earth. You might not have thought about it, but nature provides multiple life-sustaining functions.  Plants produce oxygen and absorb carbon, wetlands filter water, and bees pollinate food crops. Together, theses functions are called “ecosystem services.” Ecosystem services are inherently invaluable. But have you ever wondered what they would be worth in monetary terms? The global value of ecosystem services is estimated at $145 trillion per year. That’s almost double the total global economic output of $75.59 trillion. The ecosystem services figure comes from research led by economist Robert Costanza. The purpose of his work is not to commodify nature, but to ensure the true worth of the environment is counted in economic and policy decisions. This is a key principle of the field of ecological economics. Here’s an example: In ‘mainstream’ economics, a forest has no worth until it is cut down and the timber is sold. The services provided by the forest—providing habitats and oxygen, and preventing erosion, just to name a few—don’t figure into accounting systems.  Environmental damage is written off as an “externality” (an outside cost). But what if the value of these services was counted in business decisions? What...
Democracy Leaves No Room for Colorblindness in the Classroom

Democracy Leaves No Room for Colorblindness in the Classroom

This post continues our #NewTeacherVoices series featuring pre-service teachers. Today’s guest blogger is Clamentia Hall Jr. He is a double major in elementary education and language arts in elementary education. Along with being an advocate for democratic education, Clamentia hopes to create more opportunities for students to experience the arts with his music education & academic support project called My Gift From Above.   Diversity is a fact of life and schools are not exempt. Race is not a negligible concept within the classroom. Teachers cannot afford to take a colorblind approach to teaching because race absolutely does have an impact on educational and economic opportunity. Educators that teach or promote colorblindness counteract the focus of democratic education and standby to the repetition of cultural misrepresentations and stereotypes. A democratic education is one that goes beyond just helping students to develop the skills necessary to be successful. A democratic education fosters self-worth and purpose within the student, teaches active communication skills, and encourages civic and community involvement. A democratic education should allow students to challenge and discuss topics; especially those that directly relate to the demographics of their own school and community. Community involvement gives students the opportunity to discover their possible calling while also developing a purpose for their lives. David Orr, author of Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect, states that “a calling has to do with one’s largest purpose, personhood, deepest values, and the gift one wants to give back to the world.” Educators should give students as many opportunities as possible to have these types of experiences and by practicing colorblindness in...