Schedule: World Sustainability ENST20903 | Fall 2014

Syllabus | Wiki BB

This Schedule page provides the sequence of activities for the Fall 2014 offering of World Sustainability ENST20903 (CRN40710) by Professor Wayne Hayes.

Important Dates ^

The Academic Calendar for the Fall 2014 semester displays important dates to keep in mind. Please note the due dates for ENST20903 below:

Part I: Sustainability and Global Crisis

September 9 to 30: Introducing Sustainability

Learning Goal #1: As displayed in the Syllabus, the first goal of ENST209 is to demonstrate your thorough understanding of the concept of sustainability.

September 9 Part I: After our introductions and initial business, our first session provides a detailed overview of the course to establish expectations and to assist your planning and preparation.

  1. Introductions to the course and to each other; roster confirmation
  2. Orientation, overview, and business of the course: syllabus, schedule, Wiki Bulletin Board: We will go over the flow of the course in detail.
  3. Contact information: use my Ramapo College email account:
  4. How to do well here: tips and traps. Q. and A.

September 9 Part II: We will view the 2009 film Home and discuss in class. The text of the script of the film is available online.

September 16: The Anthropocene provides the historical context within which to understand world sustainability. This seminal and challenging journal article is short but will require close reading. We will engage in ample discussion, so come to class prepared.

  1. Bon Iver, Holocene; lyrics
  2. The Anthropocene: Are Humans Now Overwhelming the Great Forces of Nature, by Will Steffen, Paul J. Crutzen and John McNeill. This provides a superb overview of why world sustainability is urgent, now. The video in the Anthropocene Journal demonstrates the dependence of the notion of the Anthropocene on a single variable: CO2 in the atmosphere. See also the Living on the Anthropocene web site for visuals and background. Discussion of the concept of the Anthropocene. See Professor Hayes's PowerPoint presentation.
  3. Background for brief discussion: Themes of World Sustainability in current events:
    1. Watch the U.S. Census Bureau Population Clock and examine for class discussion the basics of the history and real-time changes of human population growth.
    2. Update: Justin Gills, "U.N. Says Lag in Confronting Climate Change Will be Costly," New York Times 1/16/2014.
    3. Graeme Wearden, "Oxfam: 85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world," The Guardian, 1/20/2014, which also reports on the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
  4. Professor Hayes remarks: Thinking globally in generational time.

September 23: How the Earth is being destroyed, piece by piece:

  1. Michael Jackson video: Earth Song
  2. Ann Neumann, A Pipeline Threatens Our Family Land, New York Times, July 12, 2014
  3. We will view Banking on Disaster documenting the destruction of tropical forests in the 1980s.
  4. Examine the role playing game simulating the scenario depicted in the film. The film provides context for subsequent discussions of sustainability.
  5. Brief word on ecological ethics.

September 30 Part I: The prelude to sustainability: emerging ecological crisis and limits to economic growth. The assignments below are tentative and may change, announced in class.

  1. Michael Jackson video: They Don't Really Care About Us
  2. Limits to Growth and redefining economic growth. View the explanatory video from the Club of Rome. Read a recent assessment of the accuracy of the Limits to Growth predictions forty years later: Graham Turner and Cathy Alexander, The Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we're nearing collapse, the Guardian, September 1, 2014.
  3. Towards an Ecological Ethics: please read Elizabeth Oriel: Towards a New Co-Existence: On Reframing our Ecological Crisis, Common Dreams, August 18, 2014
  4. We will briefly discuss in class how paradigms are formed with a story about paradigms. In class, we will also examine graphic representations of sustainability at Visualizing sustainability from the Computing for sustainability web site in class for discussion.

Part II: We explain what sustainability means in the context of ENST209: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (a.k.a.,the Brundtland Commission Report), Our Common Future.

  1. Browse the Brundtland Report and sample its findings and logic. This is a seminal historical document.
  2. Read the important Overview, noting the way that sustainable development was framed and the language used to define sustainable development, quoted below. Read the Brundtland section on sustainable development carefully. Note the Report's succinct working definition of sustainability: "Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
  3. Examine some of Professor Hayes's background notes on the Brundtland report.
  4. View these supplementary materials: Wiki presentation on Brundtland by Professor Hayes; Wiki on Intergenerational Concerns; Wiki on Triple Bottom Line.
  5. View Professor Hayes's PowerPoint presentation on sustainability and the Brundtland Commission Report.

Tip: Brundtland defined world sustainability for the first time. When asked for an explanation of sustainability, don't neglect this seminal report.

October 7 to October 21: The Global Crisis

Learning Goal #2: The student will demonstrate an empirical grasp of the nature and extent of the current global crisis. The student will coherently explain timely and comprehensive aspects that indicate the extent of the unsustainability of our current civilization. This includes a critical interpretation of how modern civilization resists, even obstructs, sustainability. The mid-term exam, counting 40 points, will be given on October 21.

October 7: We will introduce and define the global crisis.
  1. Please read Lester Brown, World on the Edge, Preface and Chapter One.
  2. Lester Brown, World on the Edge, Part I, A Deteriorating Foundation, pp. 19-55. Hear Lester Brown in his own words connecting Limits to Growth to his Plan B.
  3. Professor Hayes has provided recommended background notes that supplement Brown on the global crisis: notes supplementing and setting up Brown with sections on Beyond the Oil Peak, Global Warming, Natural Systems Under Stress and on The Social Divide.

October 14 Part I: Lester Brown,World on the Edge, Part II, The Consequences, pp. 57-93.

  1. We will view and discuss the the slide show on the first part of World on the Edge.
  2. Professor Hayes prepared a PowerPoint presentation on Lester Brown, World on the Edge, Part I, A Deteriorating Foundation.
  3. The challenge: See Professor Hayes's Statement of Concern.

October 14 Part II: End global crisis and preparation for mid-term exam

  1. New York Times video: Class Dismissed: The Death of Female Education
  2. Suggestions for preparation for the mid-term exam.
October 21 Part I: Concluding remarks on the global crisis and the disabling analysis. Set up for the next section of the course, sustainability solutions. We will also discuss the Course Enrichment Component assignment.

October 21 Part II: The mid-term exam on all course materials to date will be given as multiple-choice and essays using blue books, provided. The mid-term exam counts 40 points toward the calculation of your grade for the course. A separate support page provides assistance for your preparation and explains the format.

Note: The last day to withdraw from a class with a "W" grade is October 23.

Part II: Sustainability Solutions

Learning Goal #3: The student will demonstrate an appreciation of how people and organizations take actions toward sustainability: How can citizens and organizations make decisions and gain skills helpful in making their lives sustainable, promoting sustainable communities, and achieving a sustainable world. What public policies and business models can be formulated and implemented that promote world sustainability?

October 28 - December 9: Sustainability Solutions & the Emergence of Civil Society

October 28 Part I: Transition from the global crisis to sustainability solutions.

  1. Film: The Economics of Happiness: See the web site of the International Society for Ecology and Culture.
  2. Read Paul Hawken, graduation address, University of Portland, May 19, 2009, and his speech at Bioneers about his book, Blessed Unrest.
  3. Short video: Winning the Story Wars - The Hero's Journey

October 28 Part II: Review of mid-term exam: I will distrubute the blue exam books for review of the essay questions and distribute the Scantron cards to go over the multiple-choice questions from the mid-term exam.

November 4: Economic growth, happiness, and sustainability:
  1. View and discuss The Story of Stuff
  2. Please read McKibben, Deep Economy, pages 1-128. Watch Bill McKibben's interview.
  3. See Prof. Hayes's presentation on McKibben. We will discuss Deep Economy and explain how it supports sustainability solutions.

November 18: Economic growth redefined to support sustainability:

  1. Please finish McKibben, Deep Economy, pages 129-232.
  2. View the video: Bhutan's Gross National Happiness.
  3. Video from The Compression Institute
  4. Discussion of the Course Enrichment Component experiential learning assignment

November 25: Lester Brown's World on the Edge: Part III: The Response, Plan B, pp. 99 - 180; focus on energy.

  1. To complement this section, read Gus Speth's essay at Worldwatch Institute, section on "Three Paths Into the Future."
  2. View: The Story of Solutions.
  3. Lester Brown's World on the Edge: Part III: The Response, Plan B, pp. 99 - 180. We will view and discuss the the slide show on the second part of World on the Edge, starting with slide #28. Note: The PowerPoint corresponds to Brown
  4. Video: Renewable Energy, The History Channel

November 25: The Course Enrichment Component experiential learning assignment is due by the end of the day.

December 2: Brown, World on the Edge, Part IV: Watching the Clock, pp. 181-202.

  1. Prof. Hayes has made a legacy overall supplementary presentation on Brown Plan B. My notes on Brown's themes were originally developed for the prior version of the book. Brown's themes and the overall argument, however, have remained largely the same.
  2. Examine the Atlantic Wind Connection

December 9 Part I: Discussion of the final take-home essay. Concluding remarks and closure for ENST20903. Readings to be announced.

December 9 Part II: The multiple-choice portion of the final exam, counting 20 points.

December 16: The take-home portion of the final exam, counting 20 points, is due by class time. December 16 is the assigned exam date for this course.

Note: The last day to file an Incomplete grade is December 19.