STE[+a]M is a metaphor for whole-brain thinking. This includes a balance of creative and analytical approaches to life. So how does this play out  in the workplace? Can we be more whole-brained in our approach to employment?

Going Green in Lifelong Learning – How Green Are You?
By Edward Abeyta, Ph.D.





Dr. Ed Abeyta is a former Staff Advisor to the University of California Regents and now Director of K-16 Programs at UCSD Extension.

Never before has it been necessary for us to consider taking a creative green approach to sustaining human capital and lifelong learning.

The focus on “going green” is a philosophy connected to sustainability, environmentally friendly, and accountability for the human resource aspects of business.

In today’s knowledge-based economy, we cannot afford to stop learning after leaving the formal school system. In many cases, individual success and satisfaction in the workplace depends on continually learning in order to upgrade skills and acquire new knowledge.

In a rapidly changing economy, it is easy to overlook that humans, not just technology, are the key to the future success. As such, it is quintessential that each person takes a green approach to become a self-sustainable individual.

To be a self-sustainable individual, one must apply a green perspective to all aspects of their life.

The question each person must ask, “How green am I?”

To answer this question, one must take an honest green self-review.

In business, investors look at how sustainable a company is by the fiscal health, business plan, stakeholders, and how they care about the betterment of society and the planet.

If individuals take a similar approach to themselves, then one can quickly determine their own “green stock” value when considering their physical, emotional, financial, social, family, and educational health.

When an honest inventory is conducted in the same way a business inventories its own performance, then adjustments can be made to become a more productive and self-sustainable “green” person. As in business, a central key in adapting a personal green philosophy is tied to ongoing refinement and self-renewal through lifelong and continuous learning.

Patrick Scott-Klingborg explains, “As a recent UCSD graduate, I realize my degree is just a launching pad into the workforce. It is clear that continuing to upgrade my skills and find a balance between work and personal demands requires a commitment to continuous learning to remain competitive in the workplace and find time to explore my personal interests.”

He adds, “UCSD Extension has been a great place for me to take courses in areas outside my major but directly related to my professional role. I have also been able to explore my artistic side exploring my interest in photography.”

Understanding how one learns is an ongoing skill connected uniquely to each individual personal preference. Each of us has our own learning style; however, the aspiration is that we can assist in creating those optimal learning conditions tailored to ourselves.

The road to a “greening ourselves” through lifelong learning is a personal journey not a destination. It is important to note learning is not just about mastering learning tools, the ability to think, and knowledge of specific disciplines.

Learning is also connected to what we do in gaining skills that contribute to a productive, prosperous, and quality of life in OUR community.

A green mindset leads us to learn to live together as a society through gaining a tolerance to understand other people and the political views, cultures, and values that enable a working relationship on mutual interests.

Ultimately, learning to adhere to a green self-sustainable approach to life and learning enables one to increase stock in oneself, but also contributes to a more productive society and strengthens our workforce.

The “green mindset” is essential to the collaborative effort between The San Diego Workforce Partnership and UCSD Extension to meet the ongoing workforce development demands in our region.

As Student Services administrator Charmayne Wood-Marshall notes, “The San Diego Workforce Partnership and UCSD Extension have had a long history of working together to train and re-train adults seeking to make a career transition or move into a new emerging field. UCSD Extension has provided training in areas such as Casual Gaming, Data Mining, and Clinical Trials that have led to successful job placement within these industries.”

When we work together to build more effective learning systems-governments and corporations; universities and non-profit organizations; industrialized nations and developing nations-we create a synergy that will add value throughout the economic system, and our societies and communities.

If we want to manage our global economy effectively, and overcome our economic difficulties, we have to do everything in our power to ensure that all human beings have access to training at every stage of their lives.

We need to encourage individuals to become more self-sustainable in their lives by promoting a well-balanced green approach.