TED Talk: Zoe Weil on Shaping The World Through Our Classrooms

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Zoe Weil is the president of Institute for Humane Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a humane world through teaching principles of living a more meaningful life. In other words, we can create a sustainable, thriving world if we learn to better use our skills of integrity, compassion, healthful lifestyles and so on. While it sounds a little esoteric, or worse, all-out crunchy, what the IHE teaches makes a lot of sense. In a recent TEDx event, Zoe Weil explains exactly how such a stance on education can lead us to a healthier planet. Click through to watch.

I love how she starts with a Star Trek example -- that what made the series so appealing is that we'd already overcome the problems we face with our planet today, and we are "explorers without being conquerors."

Environmental ethics is a core component of IHE, which states, "Environmental issues are inextricably linked to human rights, animal protection, and economic and political issues. For example, placing polluting industries in poor neighborhoods is both an environmental and social justice issue. On a global scale, something as ubiquitous as the burning of fossil fuels contributes to pollution, acid rain, and climate change. These problems, in turn, contribute to human health declines and increased weather-related disasters.

"Environmental concerns are frequently pitted against human rights, inhibiting the search for solutions that benefit both people and the natural world. For example, we are asked to choose between loggers and owls, as if there is no way to protect jobs and other species. And species viability is often pitted against individual animals, so that we choose between trapping and killing certain animals to protect an ecosystem. Humane Education invites people to explore more complex and far-reaching solutions to these either/or scenarios."

What could our world be like if our elementary school and high school classrooms incorporated the principles of humane education?

Fortunately, there are courses available for those of us whose favorite teachers managed to skip this important part of our educations.

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