SUST 242N: Issues in Sustainability
Instructor:Michele Grinar; Ann Brennan
This course is part of the General Education Integrative Studies curriculum. As such, it combines Humanites (GH) and Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS) through the topic of sustainability. Students will read, write, and think integratively by considering the humanistic values of sustainability and how those values are connected to the political, social, and cultural forces that shape sustainable activities. The course examines the concepts and key issues of sustainability through a variety of literary, scientific, political, and popular texts. Class discussions will trace the roots of sustainability in environmental writing, will analyze the diverse debates surrounding sustainability, and will consider local, national, and international texts about sustainability. Students will interact with invited guest speakers, conduct field research on sustainability in local communities and institutions, and create their own narratives and scenarios for sustainable futures based on their findings and speculations. The course will address central issues of sustainability in society today, including: - What are the historical and cultural foundations of sustainability? - How is sustainability a political, social, and ethical issue? - How do crises and disasters create challenges for sustainability? - How is sustainability connected to local, urban, and transnational environments? The goal of the course is to develop two types of awareness. First, students will develop an awareness of the key discussions about sustainability in society today. Second, students will cultivate a critical awareness of how debates about sustainability are shaped through the written and spoken word. Sustainability is more than just protecting the great outdoors or using a recycling bin. It is also a product of the discourse surrounding it. In other words, sustainability-and what we think, say, and do concerning it-is influenced by what other groups and individuals have written or said about it. Sustainability debates are shaped by more than simply "the facts" surrounding environmental issues; they are also shaped by the persuasive tactics and rhetorical choices writers and speakers make. Students will spend the semester analyzing, discussing, and creating texts that engage the key issues and most important topics of sustainability and environmentalism.