Environmentally oriented memes are sweeping around the world, nowhere is this more evident than in schools where institutions are copying each others green programing, green building and sustainable practices.

A “Meme” is a cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one person to another by non-genetic means (as by imitation); memes are the cultural counterpart of genes. A meme is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes. Memes are the DNA of human society, influencing every aspect of mind, behavior, and culture. The word was coined by British biologist R. Dawkins and is taken from the Greek mmesthai, to imitate.

The greening of academe is about a lot more than just recycling, green schools are imitating one another in areas like energy efficiency, renewable energy, and green building.

Like genes, memes usually proliferate because they offer some benefit to the hosts. Green memes are in schools around the world because being perceived as a sustainability leader attracts students, funding, and media attention. Academic programming that is built around sustainability is self propagating, the more an institution develops a cluster of educated talent the more that draws even more talent.

An education in a green school reduces the impact on the planet and teaches people the necessary skills to develop a sustainable economy. A sustainably educated workforce brings their knowledge to bear on the wide range of sustainable issues and companies reap the benefits of cost reductions, enhanced marketing appeal and employee interest.

Green memes are thoroughly permeating our educational establishments and changing the way we live and our relationship to the earth.