Course Meeting Times
Seminars: 1 session / week; 2 hours / session
There are no prerequisites for this course.
This course examines alternative conceptions and theoretical underpinnings of sustainable development. It focuses on the sustainability problems of industrial countries, and of developing states and economies in transition. It also explores the sociology of knowledge regarding sustainability, the economic and technological dimensions, and institutional imperatives, along with implications for political constitution of economic performance.
17.181 fulfills the undergraduate public policy requirement in the Political Science major and minor. Graduate students are expected to explore the subject in greater depth through reading and individual research.
List of Course Books
Choucri, Nazli, ed. Global Accord: Environmental Challenges and International Responses. MIT Press, 1995. ISBN: 9780262531344. [Preview with Google Books]
Tainter, Joseph A. The Collapse of Complex Societies (New Studies in Archaeology). Cambridge University Press, 1990. ISBN: 9780521386739. [Preview with Google Books]
For additional readings, see the table in the Readings section.
- Class attendance participation (20% of final grade)
- Midterm (take home) (25%)
- Assignment (submit 10 websites for the Global System for Sustainable Development (GSSD) database (20%)
- Final (take home) or a research paper on topic of your choice with the approval of the instructor (35%)
For details on the GSSD database assignment, see the Assignments section.
For details on the midterm and final exams, see the Exams section.
|WEEK #||TOPICS||KEY DATES|
|Part I Content & Context|
|1||Introduction-Debates, Definitions & Dilemmas|
|2||Evolving Concepts: Growth vs. Sustainability|
|3||Sustainability as a "Knowledge Domain"|
|4||Cyberspace & Sustainability|
|Part II Actors, Processes & Institutions|
|5||Critical Drivers-Social Mechanisms & Cognitive Factors||GSSD assignment due|
|6||Economic Performance-Production & Consumption|
|7||Technology, Firms Markets-Corporate Perspectives||Midterm posted|
|8||Climate Change & Sustainable Development||Midterm due|
|9||From Sustainability "Problems" to "Solution" Strategies|
|Part III Strategic Issues|
|10||New International Institutional Contexts|
|11||International Responses to Sustainability Dilemmas|
|12||Global Accord: Next Round||Final exam posted|
|13||Transformation & Change: Alternative Futures||Final exam due|