2013-14 Catalog

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Offering Description

Approaches to Sustainability


Fall 2013 quarter

Rob Cole physics
Fields of Study
community studies, environmental studies and sustainability studies
Preparatory for studies or careers in
ecosystem dynamics, environmental science, resource management, political and community ecology, sustainability and justice, and systems science.

Sustainability - what does it mean? Sustainability for whom? Consumption, social stratification, increased indebtedness, and environmental destruction are existing hallmarks of ‘civilization.’ Many of our current cultural, social and economic systems are unsustainable. This program will explore different visions of sustainability that offer alternatives to the dominant industrial/corporate model. We will examine approaches taken by different groups of people, in differing circumstances, to forge a more just, equitable and sustainable future that doesn’t outstrip the regenerative capacity of our ecosystem.

In particular, we will compare and contrast two major approaches to sustainability; that of The Natural Step, and that of ‘transition communities.’ We will explore how these visions address equity and justice in the face of climate change, social stratification and ecosystem degradation. We will examine metrics and indicators of sustainability, and various measures of the regenerative capacity of the planet. We will survey a wide array of actions individuals and groups can take to foster a future that is more sustainable and more equitable and just for both human and other species.

Through workshops, readings, films, personal audits and seminar discussions, students will engage a variety of sustainability concepts and approaches. They will learn skills useful in assessing actions that foster sustainability, and they will explore the habits of mind so essential to taking action in the twenty-first century. 

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
May be offered again in
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
December 6th, 2012 New program added