THE ECONOMIC PAMPHLETEER: Sustainability in Higher Education: Beyond Going Green


  • John Ikerd University of Missouri, Columbia



Food Systems, Higher Education, Sustainability


First paragraphs:

It is encouraging that a growing number of colleges and universities are making serious efforts to address questions of sustainability in their teaching, research, campus operations, and public relations programs. Some are building green buildings, buying green cleaning supplies, and competing in greenest campus contests. It is also heartening that food and agricultural issues have risen to prominence on green campuses, as food services respond to student demands for local sourcing of foods, composting of food waste, and space for student gardens to produce foods by sustainable methods. While going green is necessary, it is not sufficient.

Authentic sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without diminishing opportunities for the future. Everything that is used for meeting human needs ultimately must come from either nature or society. The economy provides an efficient means of using natural and societal resources to meet human needs. Ecological integrity, while necessary, is not sufficient to ensure sustainability. A society that is lacking in social or economic integrity cannot sustain ecological integrity. Ecological, social, and economic integrity are inseparable dimensions of the whole of sustainability. Educational programs that focus on a specific ecological, social, or economic dimension of sustainability without effectively addressing the other two may be useful, but they do not address the fundamental question of sustainability.


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Author Biography

John Ikerd, University of Missouri, Columbia

John Ikerd is professor emeritus of agricultural economics, University of Missouri, Columbia. He was raised on a small dairy farm in southwest Missouri and received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural economics from theUniversity of Missouri. He worked in private industry for a time and spent 30 years in various professorial positions atNorth Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Georgia, and the University of Missouri before retiring in 2000. Since retiring, he spends most of his time writing and speaking on issues related to sustainability with an emphasis on economics and agriculture. Ikerd is author of Sustainable Capitalism; A Return to Common Sense; Small Farms Are Real Farms; Crisis and Opportunity: Sustainability in American Agriculture; and, just published, A Revolution of the Middle. More background and selected writings are at
John Ikerd



How to Cite

Ikerd, J. (2012). THE ECONOMIC PAMPHLETEER: Sustainability in Higher Education: Beyond Going Green. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 2(3), 5–7.

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