Assignment 3. history and politics of sustainability


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The concept of sustainability that we have discussed so far did not emerge out of thin air.  In fact, it has a long and debatable history.  This paper asks you to piece together SOME of the main ideas associated with the history of sustainability, particularly ideas associated with its political contestation.  This is a tough assignment, I know, because your paper should be about 5-6 pages long.  Further:

  • Typed
  • 2 spacing
  • 1-inch margins.

It’s hard to keep things short and to the point, but this is a really important professional skill to develop.   One thing you need to do constantly in your career is to collapse lots of information down into digestible nuggets, all without being dense, and usually without a lot of time to do it!!  It is far easier to write long than short, believe me.   

Your paper SHOULD BE structured as follows (though you may use your own terms)

  • Part 1. Introduction (very brief)
  • Part 2. The intellectual origins of sustainability
  • Part 3. Three historic “moments” in sustainability
  • Part 4. The rise and limitations of “green diplomacy.”
  • Part 5. Conclusions (very brief)

Each section should address the following:

  • Part 1. Introduction
    • Here you will establish your overall point. What DO YOU THINK is the main idea we should take away from your interpretation of the material I give you, including the lectures and the readings? 
    • This should be brief, perhaps no more than 3/4 of a page
  • Part 2. The intellectual origins of sustainability
    • Listen to LECTURE 1
    • Read the article entitled “The intellectual origins of the sustainability concept.”
    • Answer the following question: What key ideas about the sustainability problem today have roots in the 19th century?
  • Part 3. Three historic moments in sustainability
    • Listen to LECTURE 2
    • Read the following:
      • ‘Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, and the Boundaries of Politics in American Thought’
      • ‘Introduction: New Deal Conservation’
      • ‘A brief comparison of the Civil Rights Movement and the Environmental Justice Movement’
      • Answer the following question: “Of the three historic moments in US environmentalism that we have discussed here, the most important single idea from the past that influences sustainability discussions today is…… and this is why”
    • Part 4. The rise and limitations of “green diplomacy.”
      • Listen to LECTURE 3
      • Read the chapter entitled “From protest to sustainable development”
      • Answer the following question: “Sustainability has become increasingly important in global affairs, but at a real cost.  That cost is…..”

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