While sustainability is generally seen as the work of government (policymakers) and technologists (scientists or engineers), and thus a top-down endeavor in which citizens or communities are seen as "adopters" (as in, how can we get people to retrofit their homes? or turn off their lights when they don't need them?), the field is slowly starting to recognize the key role that people and communities need to play, not only as trusted messengers in getting people to engage in sustainability and climate actions, but also in deliberating about the challenges and creating new innovative, community- and culturally-based solutions. Within sustainability studies and in practice, there are increasingly theories and examples of participatory processes that lead to new types of sustainability practices. When these processes involve collaborations between communities and government, they are known as "collaborative governance."
This course will introduce the sociology of medicine and health (also known as medical sociology or sociology of health and illness), which is a broad field examining the social production of health, wellness, illness and mortality. This sub-discipline of sociology starts from the assumption that we cannot understand the topics of health and illness simply by looking at biological phenomena and medical knowledge.
Policy Tools for Environmental Management constructs a general framework for analyzing environmental issues, and develops concepts and techniques for managing environmental systems, within the context of environmental planning and policy within sustainable communities.
SLS approaches sustainability as an integrated system, linking environment, economy, and society. As an initiative focused on “creating sustainable communities,” we especially emphasize the role that SOCIETY plays in sustainability – and particularly issues of social equity and community voice. You can see a visual outline of SLS’ approach to sustainable communities here. The purpose of this tool is to help students begin to understand the SOCIETY part of sustainability. It includes two exercises and resources for learning more.