RSoc 597 - 001: Special Topics:
Sustainability: Theories and Practice
Spring 2018 (3 credits)

Mondays, 2:30-5:30 pm, Ferguson 103

Over the last 25-30 years, sustainability has become a more mainstream and familiar topic, but also a more divergent and sometimes disputed space. Academia, science, civil society, governments and business manifest often distinct interests in sustainability and pursue and support varied approaches to addressing sustainability challenges, where environmental, social and economic priorities must simultaneously be addressed. This graduate seminar offers a critical examination of the “grand theme” of sustainability. Rather than taking the notion of sustainability as a given, the course considers sustainability as an historical and situated construct, one that is mutable and contested, even as it remains both aspirational and inspirational. The course is organized as a reading and discussion seminar and will ground students in key social science, theoretical, policy and practical debates about sustainability through the post-Brundtland era to the present context of the U.N.’s most recent Sustainable Development Goals. We will read across a variety of the social sciences to critically assess the emergence, implementation and outcomes of sustainability agendas within and across diverse substantive arenas, including but not limited to agriculture, development, energy, science, consumption and lifestyles.

Instructor: Clare Hinrichs, Professor of Rural Sociology
Dept. of Agricultural Economics, Sociology & Education
111D Armsby Building
Office phone: 814-863-8628
Email: chinrichs@psu.edu