World Sustainability Home Page

Welcome aboard! This is the World Sustainability Home Page for the courses offered in the spring, 2010, semester by Michael Edelstein and Hayes:

The Ramapo College School of Social Science and Human Service expects its students to experience sustainability, and World Sustainability fulfills that requirement. Further, the course fulfills the International Issues requirement of General Education Program of Ramapo College. For Environmental Studies majors, this is the introductory course. There is much to do here. Active

This course is, ultimately, about the world that your children will inherit, so it is not about us -- we are not alone for our children join us on our journey, as is the essence of sustainability. Please be prepared in advance for your children's questions, for we will all be held responsible. Our optimism is strained, as you will see, but not exhausted. This course will be quite a ride. We absolutely need your cooperation. Our years of working together convince us that you, not just us, make this course. You must do your part.

The course fulfills several niches:

  1. It counts as either of two requirements of the School of Social Science and Human Services: sustainability or consciousness and society.
  2. The General Education program counts this as fulfilling the International Issues requirement.
  3. This is the foundational course of the Environmental Studies major.

Mission: World Sustainability

Social Ecology: World Sustainability provides an analysis of the contemporary global crisis combined with a framework for damage repair and transition to a new sustainable world. The course examines three interacting destructive tendencies of the modern period, all exacerbated by exponential population growth: the catastrophic degradation and contamination of our planetary home, the extreme polarization between rich and poor, and the eclipse of community and increasing war and violence.

The axial concept of the course is sustainability, an alternative societal path poised to replace economic growth as a fundamental organizing principle. To see the need for switching paths, we require the critical abilities to see past dominant sources of information that actively distort the facts.

Sustainability means learning to live within our means rather than borrowing from future generations. Our future depends on grasping the need for a transition toward a sustainable society and forging this new direction. To do so, we require both the knowledge and the wisdom to live sustainability in the future. Establishing this "ecological literacy" is the primary function of this course.

The goals of World Sustainability are:

  1. A thorough understanding of the concept of sustainability. The student will explain sustainability in the global context. The student will explain world sustainability and provide examples. This goal will be pursued in Part I of the course and will conclude with an essay and a graphic organizer that indicates the student's progress toward achieving this goal. This essay counts 10 points and the graphic organizer counts 5.
  2. An empirical grasp of the nature and extent of the current global crisis. The student will define timely and comprehensive aspects that indicate the extent of the unsustainability of our current civilization and anthropogenic systems. This goal, pursued in Part II of the course, will culminate with an essay, counting 20 points, that explains how the student interprets and analyzes the nature and extent of the global crisis of sustainability.
  3. A critical interpretation of how modern civilization resists, even obstructs, sustainability. A critical interpretation of how modern civilization resists, even obstructs, sustainability. Students will explain how modern civilization creates barriers that resist sustainability. Part III, the disabling analysis, asks students to write an essay counting 20 points that explains how the disabling occurs in their own lives and in the lives of a someone within another culture.
  4. An appreciation of how people and organizations take actions toward sustainability. An appreciation of how people and organizations take actions toward sustainability. Students in Part IV, the enabling analysis, will discover how citizens and organizations make decisions and gain skills helpful in making their lives sustainable, promoting sustainable communities, and achieving a sustainable world. In particular, we will explore the potential of citizenship and civil society responses. To demonstrate this, students will write a culminating essay explaining how a sustainable world is being built through the work of a civil society organization and how that work integrates the themes of the course. The final essay counts 25 points. (Course participation encompasses the remaining 20 points.)

Students taking World Sustainability will develop a thorough understanding of the concept of sustainability, a critical understanding of why modern civilization is not sustainable, actions that can be taken to move toward sustainability, the barriers modernity has created to these actions, and the world sustainability movement that challenges these barriers. No small challenge.

Historical Legacy

The field of Social Ecology was invented within the Environmental Studies program at Ramapo College. Two names stand out in this rich legacy: the late Murray Bookchin and our colleague, now on leave, Trent Schroyer. Check out the Wikipedia entries for social ecology and for Murray Bookchin. Be wary, however, the course has roots in social analysis and criticism. Quoting Trent Schroyer, who has pioneered the current version of the course:

When we talk about 'world sustainability' we are concerned not only with getting our metabolism with nature right and creating an equitable world but also with maintaining an ethos of evidence and truthfulness, of public accountability and transparency in which legitimate democratic discourse and political action can change the rules and establish human rights. -- Trent Schroyer

We are grateful to the originators of this course, Murray Bookchin and Trent Schroyer. Your current instructor, Wayne Hayes, is pleased to teach this on-line course. Welcome aboard and enjoy the ride.

The World Sustainability Web Site | © Michael Edelstiein, Ph.D., and Wayne Hayes, Ph.D. |
Initialized: 1/10/2007 | Last Update: 08/29/2013 | V. 3.2, Build #11