Sustainability Essay Ideas

Sustainability at Macalester College
Suzanne Savanick Hansen, Macalester College
For the past three decades, Macalester College has been a leader in implementing sustainable practices on campus. In 2008-2009, the newly established Sustainability Office facilitated a campus-wide sustainability strategic planning process. The results of that work, along with Climate Action Plan recommendations by the Environmental Studies senior seminar led to the adoption of Macalester College's first comprehensive Sustainability Plan ( The plan articulates concrete goals and actions for the college including:

Sustainability at Colorado College
Barbara Whitten, Colorado College
Colorado College has a very active sustainability program, which is fully described on our web page ( Because of our location, we traditionally attract students with strong environmental interests, who spend their weekends and block breaks hiking, climbing, kayaking and skiing. We've had an active environmental student group for twenty five years; recently their efforts have shifted from preserving the wilderness (old growth forests, endangered species, etc) to sustainability on campus and in the community. Administration support has also increased; sustainability is a significant effort of President Celeste, who signed the President's Climate Commitment in 2009. In 2008, he created the Sustainability Council, which is composed of administrators, facilities staff, faculty, and students, and oversees all campus sustainability initiatives. Administrative support has enabled us to increase the level of support for sustainability, but many of the initiatives continue to be student-driven.

Sustainability at Luther
Steve Holland, Luther College
There are several reasons for my interest in sustainability education. Sustainability education complements the goals of a liberal education and the mission of Luther College in many ways. First, sustainability education emphasizes an interdisciplinary, systems approach to thinking about problems. It promotes an understanding of social and ecological systems, an awareness of their interdependence, and an appreciation for the complexity of our world. Second, sustainability education demands attention to the importance of place and community while simultaneously increasing students' awareness of cross-cultural perspectives and global interconnectedness. Finally, sustainability education helps students become informed, ethical citizens. The ability to assess empirical claims, think critically about alternative viewpoints, engage in political discourse, advocate change, and commit to action leads students toward a life of service and learning. As a teacher in a liberal arts college, I think it is essential to introduce sustainability concepts wherever appropriate.

Making Sustainability Visible
Thomas Beery, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Thomas Beery, Center for Environmental Education, University of Minnesota-Duluth Sustainability is about people and the choices they make, ultimately it is a question of human behavior. A deliberate effort to ...

Sustainability at Beloit - Biology
Yaffa Grossman, Beloit College Download essay as PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 20kB Jun2 10) My interests in sustainability date to the late 1980s, when I worked in the Public Affairs Office of the Ecological Society of ...

Sustainability and Understanding Time
Mary Savina, Carleton College
Mary Savina, Geology, Carleton College When I'm talking with students in geology courses about sustainability, I don't use the word much. As one of my colleagues, Aaron Swoboda, puts it, we know ...

Sustainability at Monmouth - Ecology
Tim Tibbetts, Monmouth College
As a plant ecologist I look at sustainability through biodiversity lenses. How many corn and bean fields will be planted where native forests and prairies were cleared? How many invasive plants will threaten the remaining fragments? How will these fragments be used, preserved, protected? How will we deal with soil erosion, loss of soil fertility, increased fertilizer demands, run off and eutrophication of our waters? And still feed a growing population?

Sustainability at Ripon - Economics
Dmytro Zhosan, Ripon College
While in general sustainability seems to be becoming more and more popular as a topic these days, one thing that needs to be understood is what kind of sustainability we are talking about. There is no secret that the definition itself varies among people and among institutions. Some prefer to focus on small issues – like switching to local-grown food and going "trayless" in the commons, some decide to "go bigger" and replace grass on athletic fields with artificial turf made of recycled tires or turn to alternative energy sources for different campus needs. Regardless of which particular actions we are talking about, the end goal seems to be the same for all – minimizing the environmental impact of human activity.

Sustainability and Me
Jim Farrell, St. Olaf College
Curiosity brought me to sustainability, and it still keeps me interested. Many years ago, Alexander Wilson wrote a book called The Culture of Nature,a title that seemed so strange to me that I decided to teach it (which is what I often do to satisfy my curiosity). My first step was a course by that title in the first year writing program. My second was an interdisciplinary course on "The Environmental Imagination," meant to introduce the Humanities as part of our Environmental Studies major. In both of those classes, I encouraged students to think about their own place, St. Olaf College.

Sustainability at Ripon - Communication
Steve Martin, Ripon College
As a newcomer to the academic application of sustainability, I admittedly have a lack of knowledge of official College efforts related to sustainability. I do know that four years ago, Ripon College received some favorable national attention for its "Velorution" program. The College provided a free mountain bike to incoming first-year students in exchange for an agreement that they would not bring a car to campus. In part, this was a response to a perceived "parking problem" (there really was not a problem, though students liked to think there was), but it was also done with the environment in mind. The College also closed and removed several city streets that went through the middle of the campus. It is now a much nicer green space. It is aesthetically more pleasing and also safer. Importantly, it has discouraged students from driving from their rooms to classes (something that was silly to do in the first place, since walking to class is actually faster than driving anywhere on our small campus.)

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The most common view of sustainability is moral duty of passing on the world of unexhausted life opportunities to generations that would follow. Based on this premise, sustainability is therefore a determinant of a person attributes apart from self-regarding preferences. The practices we exhibit in the society stems from beliefs that the society regard as acceptable. Sustainability as a norm aims at promoting practices that would make the life conditions of future generation favorable.

Nearly every choice that society adapts has desirable and non-desirable consequences. Therefore, the society is at peace in promoting choices and actions that have moral good to not only the present generation, but also the future generation. People are capable of averting future consequences of the present actions. For instance, environmental practices may not have immediate impacts on the human activities such as farming, but the effects of such actions may be adverse to future life. The classification of human activities, social or scientific often falls in two categories namely, sustainable norms and non-sustainable ones.

The study of norms equate practices such as recycling of wastes, environmental significant behavior, waste reduction, and consumption of renewable energy and other desirable behavior as sustainable. Clarification on what types of behavior at hand promote sustainability is a question that is yet to receive attention from critics. However, the present concerns on sustainability focus on human activities and approaches of changing human attitudes to promote sustainability. Some critics have employed norm-activation theory in conceptualizing sustainability. From this premise, sustainability is an abstract norm from which individual build their personal norms. Interestingly, individual norms are heterogeneous and they tend to define the choices that a person makes. However, people would demonstrate sustainable behavior when activated.

The society relies on certain features that trigger it to behave in a certain manner. Largely, this notion tends to cement the norm activation theory. For example, prior to the formation of a world organization advocating for sustainable environmental practices, the globe did not care about the consequences of the actions at that time (Park & Ha, 2014). Largely, the dire consequences of the non-sustainable environmental practices forced the world into developing approaches that would protect it from similar consequences. Much of the practices we have at workplaces such as industrial practices that promote recycling of waste stems from evolved from norm-activation theory.

Sustainable practices hinges on the socio-economic conditions of a given society. The management of farms, industries, and environment depend on societal norms. If the society believes that certain practices would affect the future generation, it might consider creating laws that would avert such practices. The resource utilization pattern tends to define sustainability. For instance, farming practices tend to vary across the globe because of the variation in personal norms. In this sense, the practices of various regions in the world may vary because of the varying norm activation patterns.

In conclusion, sustainability is a practice that aims at making available life opportunities for the forth-coming generation. The choices exhibited in the society pose both desirable and non-desirable outcomes. However, not until the society activates a given norm in the society, people may not exhibit a desirable practice. The individual behavior accounts for the sustainable practices. Normally, the social practices stems from what the society cherishes or consider as acceptable. Management of human activities with the aim of providing life opportunities to the future world seems to taking shape in the present world because of the level of awareness available.


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