This course introduces the academic approach of Sustainability and explores how today’s human societies can endure in the face of global change, ecosystem degradation and resource limitations. The course focuses on key knowledge areas of sustainability theory and practice, including population, ecosystems, global change, energy, agriculture, water, environmental economics and policy, ethics, and cultural history.
This subject is of vital importance, seeking as it does to uncover the principles of the long-term welfare of all the peoples of the planet. As sustainability is a cross-disciplinary field of study, this foundation requires intellectual breadth: as I describe it in the class text, understanding our motivations requires the humanities, measuring the challenges of sustainability requires knowledge of the sciences (both natural and social), and building solutions requires technical insight into systems (such as provided by engineering, planning, and management).
Orientation and Introduction
In this module, you will become familiar with the course, your classmates, and the learning environment. The orientation also helps you obtain the technical skills required for the course. In the introduction, we will examine some of the central ideas that underpin the Earth as a system, and their consequences for environmental sustainability.
In this module, we will see how human populations have evolved over time and get a sense of where the next century of change will take us.