May 21, 2017

Introduction to Sustainability Studies

Introduction to Sustainability Studies,  New Jersey Institute of Technology (since 2011)

  • Program: Bachelor’s of Architecture degree; Minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies
  • Lecturer: Maurie Cohen
  • Class size: 20 students
  • Duration: offered over one semester.
  • Focus: The course examines the intellectual roots of the sustainability concept, in relation to international politics and policy planning. The focus is on affluent countries and the relationship between biophysical constraints on economic growth. Ecological modernization theory is presented, as well as concepts from industrial ecology. Economic growth is placed in relation to the notion of the steady-state economy. A module is dedicated to « Sustainability, consumption, and debt », exploring the role of consumer-citizens’ responsibilities. Transitions and the « new politics of progress » are also explored.
  • Student evaluation:  Class attendance (15%) and participation (25%); a midterm exam (30%), where students reflect on an article (provided one week in advance, which provides a synthesis of the different themes covered in the first half of the semester) and respond to several questions in a classroom exam; a final exam (30%), similar in format to that of the midterm. Course materials, including lecture notes, required readings, and multimedia presentations can be consulted during both exams.
  • Course evaluation: students appreciate the quality of course content and the overall educational value.