Climate and Global Change

Fall 2018
Fall 2017
Fall 2016
Jean Lynch-Steiglitz
EAS 4410

The goal of this course is to provide a solid introduction to the concept of sustainable growth and development. Sustainability is a broad and somehow necessarily vague concept that can be interpreted in many different ways. Unfortunately, sustainability risks to become one of the many buzzwords. The goal of this class is to provide tools to professionally navigate the current debate on sustainability. Students from all backgrounds will learn how to read the specialized literature and to actively engage in the promotion of sustainability.  We will start by critically reviewing the most influential definitions of sustainability, using a broad range of cultural and philosophical perspectives. We will then learn how to test if a development pathway is sustainable or not using real-world cases. Intra- and inter-generational conflicts on the use of resources will be discussed. Technology is both part of the problem – technological progress has so far increased our use of natural resources – and part of the solution – technological progress can reduce the trade-off between development and ecological degradation. We will review case studies of sustainable development strategies – from global climate change to sustainable business strategies – and we will learn about their strengths and weaknesses. Technological progress alone does not guarantee a sustainable future. The final part of the course will review policies that have potential to enhance technologies and societal transformation to ensure sustainability.

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