Categorized | Education

Footprint Futures: HPA partners with Global Footprint Network

Hawaii Preparatory Academy students in Dr. Bill Wiecking’s AP Environmental Science class participate in a videoconference with students from Seabury Hall on Maui and staff members from Global Footprint Network in Oakland, Calif. as part of a pilot project for Footprint Futures. (Photo courtesy of Hawaii Preparatory Academy)

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Hawaii Preparatory Academy, one of the premier boarding/day schools in Hawaii, and Global Footprint Network of Oakland, Calif., founded by Mathis Wackernagel, Ph.D., co-creator of the Ecological Footprint, announced their partnership to launch Footprint Futures, a student-driven program with the purpose of developing more ambitious sustainability targets than those reached at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, initiating a conversation in schools and their circles of influence.

The announcement was made during Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s recent grand opening celebration for the Energy Lab, a “living” building that is a prototype for buildings of the future. The Energy Lab is a submitted LEED Platinum candidate and a participant in the Living Building Challenge.

“We look forward to many years of association with the fine people of the Global Footprint Network,” said HPA Headmaster Lindsay Barnes. “Global Footprint Network is the world leader in raising sustainability awareness and in the serious study of resource use. As we — and our future network of schools — prepare our students for the many new careers to be created in a more sustainable world, our association with Global Footprint Network surely will play a major role.”

Global Footprint Network’s Ecological Footprint is a tool that makes sustainability measurable; this tool makes the reality of planetary limits relevant to decision makers and is being used by government agencies, companies, communities and individuals around the world. Global Footprint Network, together with its partners, coordinates research, develops methodological standards, and provides decision makers with robust resource accounts to help the human economy operate within the Earth’s ecological limits.

The partnership with Hawaii Preparatory Academy is significant because for the first time, students will participate in the conversation and draw their own conclusions about what countries must do to reduce or avoid “ecological overshoot.”

“We’re tremendously enthusiastic about the opportunity to partner with Hawaii Preparatory Academy on the Footprint Futures project,” said Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network. “I strongly believe that youth hold the capacity to transform our human economy, and to bring about a world in which all people can live great lives within the means of our planet.”

Hawaii Preparatory Academy and Seabury Hall on Maui recently launched Phase I of Footprint Futures with an intensive three-week pilot project funded by the AVINA Foundation. Students from both schools participated in three video teleconferences led by Global Footprint Network staff.

Over the course of these video teleconferences, students gained mastery of Ecological Footprint concepts, and studied the biocapacity and Footprint trends of their self-selected countries. The Seabury students studied Brazil and the United States, while HPA students took on Pakistan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Through their own research and interviews with opinion leaders in their communities, students answered the question, What is the ideal level of resource use of the country you are studying?

“We have a wonderful opportunity to create change agents for the world,” said Dr. Bill Wiecking, director of HPA’s Energy Lab, whose AP Environmental Science students participated in the pilot project. “We can put students together with each other and with experts in the field. We want to engage students of all ages, starting in grades 9-12, in this global curriculum on sustainability.”

“What’s especially exciting for me in working with the HPA students is their great capacity for critical thinking, which is the key factor that enables them to ask the tough questions, and to move beyond status-quo thinking in a way that adults are often unable to do,” said Wackernagel. “Our vision is to extend the program so that it will eventually reach thousands of schools, fostering in the next generation of world leaders the capacity to ask the key questions, to articulate their vision of a sustainable future, and to ground that vision in a science-based methodology. This is what we hope to achieve through the Footprint Futures project, and we’re thrilled to see it coming to fruition in our partnership with HPA.”

For more information about Footprint Futures, call 808-881-4266 or e-mail elabassistant@hpa.edu.

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