17.181 | Fall 2016 | Undergraduate

Sustainability: Political Economy, Science, and Policy


Final Exam

Please answer question 1; and then either question 2 or question 3.

  1. In The Collapse of Complex Societies, Tainter focuses on the demise of ancient societies. What is the core of his argument? How relevant is it to current conditions? What criteria of relevance would you use? Would you adapt his logic to 21st century realities? If so how? If not, why not?
  2. Please select one issue or “problem” that you consider to be an impediment to sustainability, define the nature of the problem, its key features, and highlight strategies for “solutions"at the national and international levels. This question is intentionally open-ended, to allow you to consider issues or problems of particular interest to you.


  1. Compare and contrast the role(s) of governments, private firms and international institutions in the potential management of sustainability. Please address the respective contributions to the ‘creation’ of sustainability problems as well as approaches to ‘resolution’.

You may wish to focus on specific topics (or domains) or, alternatively, you might prefer framing your own approach.

Course Info

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Fall 2016
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