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Beyond sustainability

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Date Issued:
2010
Summary:
The dominant definitions of sustainability are too various and neglect essential elements necessary for effective sustainability discourse. This project considers what current understandings of sustainable development mean to those who subscribe to them and how those understandings affect public policy for sustainable development. I begin by presenting a timeline on the evolution of the term 'sustainability'. Then, I offer narrative policy analysis as a methodological tool for investigating communities of meaning with contending views on sustainability. This provides a foundation for the analysis of case studies using Harrisonian Sustainability Narratives-efficiency, equity, and ethics-as lenses through which three corresponding U.S. case studies are explored, each representing different levels of analysis-corporate, state, and individual. First, the Business Roundtable, a lobbying organization comprised of the CEOs of top U.S. companies exemplifying the efficiency narrative, claims that the problem of sustainable development can be addressed through free markets, which continually increase eco-efficiency and encourage technological advancement. Next, the Environmental Protection Agency, a state organization mandated to protect water and air and to manage toxic and solid wastes and representing the equity narrative, sees the problem of sustainable development as ensuring the just distribution of natural limits so as to reduce the impact of those limits on individuals within communities. Lastly, the ethical anthropology of Anna Peterson, philosopher of religion, points to the power of ethical narratives in creating wide-scale changes to our ideas about humanness and human nature as they relate to our relationship with our environment for sustainability.
Title: Beyond sustainability: justice and complex systems thinking for just sustainable viability.
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Name(s): Best, Andrea Leigh.
Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters
Department of Philosophy
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Date Issued: 2010
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Physical Form: electronic
Extent: ix, 178 p.
Language(s): English
Summary: The dominant definitions of sustainability are too various and neglect essential elements necessary for effective sustainability discourse. This project considers what current understandings of sustainable development mean to those who subscribe to them and how those understandings affect public policy for sustainable development. I begin by presenting a timeline on the evolution of the term 'sustainability'. Then, I offer narrative policy analysis as a methodological tool for investigating communities of meaning with contending views on sustainability. This provides a foundation for the analysis of case studies using Harrisonian Sustainability Narratives-efficiency, equity, and ethics-as lenses through which three corresponding U.S. case studies are explored, each representing different levels of analysis-corporate, state, and individual. First, the Business Roundtable, a lobbying organization comprised of the CEOs of top U.S. companies exemplifying the efficiency narrative, claims that the problem of sustainable development can be addressed through free markets, which continually increase eco-efficiency and encourage technological advancement. Next, the Environmental Protection Agency, a state organization mandated to protect water and air and to manage toxic and solid wastes and representing the equity narrative, sees the problem of sustainable development as ensuring the just distribution of natural limits so as to reduce the impact of those limits on individuals within communities. Lastly, the ethical anthropology of Anna Peterson, philosopher of religion, points to the power of ethical narratives in creating wide-scale changes to our ideas about humanness and human nature as they relate to our relationship with our environment for sustainability.
Summary: What I found in common with both the efficiency and equity narratives, representing both the political and corporate perspective and having significant influence on policy formation, is that they are pro market-based solutions of ecoefficiency and technological advancement. What they blatantly lack is guidance on what we ought to do, ought to value. I conclude that a humanist ethic is missing from both these narratives. Neither narrative sees matters of justice as co-equal partners with sustainability for sustainable development. Policy resulting from these narratives may offer efficiency and process but fails to include a robust humanist ethics necessary for a true sustainability. The way we think about our relationship to the environment shapes our behavior towards it. Just Sustainable Viability combines a complex systems approach that views human societies as complex adaptive systems and aims at optimizing social adaptive capacity with notions of distributive and procedural justice. With the inception of this new vision for sustainability, a new narrative must follow that firmly places humanity within the context of complex social and environmental systems.
Identifier: 653111593 (oclc), 2684310 (digitool), FADT2684310 (IID), fau:3520 (fedora)
Note(s): by Andrea Leigh Best.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Florida Atlantic University, 2010.
Includes bibliography.
Electronic reproduction. Boca Raton, Fla., 2010. Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Subject(s): System analysis
Policy sciences
Sustainable development -- United States
Social structure
Urban ecology (Sociology) -- United States
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/FAU/2684310
Use and Reproduction: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
Host Institution: FAU