The goal of this course is to assist students in their efforts to understand the phenomena of development and sustainability from a historical, conceptual and comparative perspective. Central to the course is the view that each of these phenomena relates as much to a way of thinking as it does to a description of the dynamics of economic, social, political, and cultural relations and practices. It therefore takes a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach that employs alternative integrating themes around the contested concepts of sustainability and development at the individual, local, national and global levels.

Although the focus will be general in scope, references will be made to particular groups, peoples, and countries as they relate to the issues that will be covered. In exploring a variety of issues, the course will attempt to respond to some critical questions including: What is sustainable development? How have the political, economic, cultural, racial, and knowledge structures shaped the issues and problems facing individuals, groups and societies, as well as the policy goals of governments? Do problems, priorities, ethics, and responsibility in developing sustainable societies appear differently when viewed from a variety of perspectives? Why is it important to explore issues such as gender and development, agrarian and food security, urbanization, and the impact of global forces and events? What is the significance of various actors and forces that have influenced and had major impacts on the nature of development and sustainability, and what is the role of social activism in the process? Why do you matter to the globe’s future and how can you make a difference?