Sustainable Development

With Jonathan Otto

Designed to introduce you to the world of academic research and writing, this section of WRDS 150 will do so with a focus on sustainable development. Inter-governmental organizations, governments, and non-governmental actors have defined “sustainable development” as a means for addressing economic marginalization while ensuring environmental well-being for future generations.  One inter-governmental organization, the United Nations (UN), has played an important role in popularizing the idea of “sustainable development” and has committed vast resources to the implementation of “sustainable development” projects.  In 1992, for instance, the UN hosted the Conference on Environment and Development where the notion of “sustainability” gained broad international exposure.  Twenty-three years later, the UN created the “Sustainable Development Goals,” consisting of a broad set of principles aimed at guiding the sustainable development efforts of member countries.  In this course, we will begin to participate in the scholarly community of UBC by analyzing “sustainable development” from the perspective of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  We will read the work of scholars in economics, geography and other social sciences and humanities disciplines who analyze “sustainable development” as a political and ideological concept and as a set of material social practices.  As we engage with this scholarly work, we will identify the distinct analytical tools and modes of framing common to each disciplinary approach.  We will then employ these analytical tools in our own research on and writing about the topic.