The concept emerged when a PhD student at Prescott College considered the ideas put forth by Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University regarding growth and fixed mindsets. The student looked at this information and questioned how it could be used to inform how one can incorporate sustainability into their worldview in a way that transforms the way one may interact with the world. The educational exercise looked at ways to grow through living sustainably, connecting with nature. The work also looks at connecting with nature when one is chronically ill, changing the way one looks at illness as though it may be debilitating - with a fixed result, toward embracing and increasing their quality of life, growing through connections as a form of healing.
Our mindset prepares us for change. Having a growth mindset allows for one to be transformed through a commitment to learn, persistence, and passion. If our mindset leans toward a growth state, our dynamic capabilities provide us with many opportunities to transform our thinking and experience a deeper learning necessary to accommodate and assimilate change.
Some key principles that have emerged in the sustainable mindset process are highlighted in the bullets below:
Fixed Mindset and Transmissive Teaching/Learning
What is a fixed mindset and how does it shape our thinking?
If you are someone with a fixed mindset, you might believe that your intelligence, skills and abilities are pre-determined, perhaps, fixed by genetic code.
What does a fixed mindset look like with regards to the way we manage a resource?
Engineered channelization or controlling nature might be an example of believing that a stream bed is a utility for humans only - it's purpose is fixed.
How can a connection with nature foster the necessary change towards a sustainable mindset?
Developing a patterns of thinking and self-insight.
Growth Mindset and Transformative Teaching/Learning
What is a growth mindset and how does it expand our thinking?
You would believe that you can cultivate who you are through the process of learning, in fact, you would believe in the ability to develop your intellect and your talents.
What does a growth mindset look like with regards to the way we manage a resource?
Creek Restoration – preserving and working with nature. The stream bed provides other services other than to humans. The stream has eco-system services that contribute to the overall well-being of the entire system.
Eco-mindset and Holistic Teaching/Learning
What is an Eco-mindset and how does it change our thinking?
Could a positive mindset help us learn through effort, promote our own inner healing or possibly even, heal our sick and dying planet?
What does an Eco-mindset look like with regards to the way we see the world?
Connecting or Re-Connecting with Nature (Biophilia)
The PDF titled Creating a Sustainable Mindset is a printable, Sustainable Mindset Workshop that anyone can use to when teaching for change.