Understanding sustainability and society

Principal author:
John L. Clark


Herein I provide some notes for a course (initially presented Saturday, 2011-02-26 as a SatCo) with the same name.

We see claims of sustainability attached to many things, often without any justification. We have a general sense that sustainability has something to do with ecological balance, but what does it really mean? What is sustainability?

This course will offer a meaningful definition for that idea, and will argue why this definition is meaningful and gravely important. In addition, it will build a mechanics of sustainability to both help you understand the world around you—including culture, economics, history, and of course the environment—as well as to evaluate existing claims to sustainability.


Lester R. Brown. Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. Earth Policy Institute, 2008.

Richard Heinberg. Peak Everything. New Society Publishers, 2007.

Professor Tim Jackson. Prosperity without Growth?: The transition to a sustainable economy. Sustainable Development Commission, 2009.

Derrick Jensen. Endgame. Seven Stories Press, 2005.

Professor David MacKay FRS. Sustainable Energy – without the hot air. UIT, 2008.

Richard Manning. The oil we eat: Following the food chain back to Iraq. Harper's Magazine, 2004-02.

Daniel Quinn. Ishmael. Bantam, 1992.

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This page was first published on 2011-02-25 16:07:00-05:00.

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