PPS284/HIS325-01/ETHICS285.01 – DENIAL, FAITH, REASON
What is sustainability? What would it look like to live “sustainably?” Why should we care? What does sustainability entail, and what is “sustainable development”? What components does it include? How do we determine whether our production and consumption
habits are sustainable or not? What standards do we apply? What are the dangers? And what are the opportunities?
All are complicated questions, yet essential. Logic requires acknowledgement that our existence will be jeopardized by production, consumption, and political patterns that are unsustainable. Quite simply, nothing much matters once we no longer have a plot of ground to stand on, or no longer can rely on cultural/political patterns that allow us to prosper. As most comtemporary definitions suggest, sustainability is — both conceptually and in reality — an inherently cross-disciplinary project. It requires intellectual breadth, the ability to explore a range of applications, and the willingness to let go of deeply ingrained assumptions.
In this course, we will read about and discuss the history of the concept, and try to figure out how it relates to our lives. We will explore the role denial, faith, and reason play in debates about sustainability as we grapple with an idea — sustainable development — that has been called the “ethical imperative” of our time. Last, but not least, we will attempt to assess what might be needed to get on a path that might allow us to live sustainably, providing long-term options of survival for future generations.