During our workshop, we begin with the 1987 Brundtland Report (Our Common Future)’s definition of sustainable development. This definition is broadly used to refer to sustainability generally, such that
achieving sustainability entails meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
This definition sparks dimensions of environment, economics, and social justice, and Chapter 2 of the Brundtland Report explores some of the complexities with these dimensions of sustainability. Elsewhere, this definition of sustainability has been modified. For example:
Sustainability is an adaptive art wedded to science in service to ethical vision. It entails satisfying current needs without sacrificing future well-being through the balanced pursuit of ecological health, economic welfare, social empowerment, and cultural creativity. (Leslie P. Thiele, Sustainability, 2013.)
Sustainability literacy, research, and community engagement
The Education Subcommittee of Duke’s Campus Sustainability Committee has approved the following definitions:
By its signature on the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, and through our Climate Action Plan, Duke has committed to take actions that will make “…climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the education and other curricular experience of all students.” Sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This must be achieved in a manner that is ecologically sound, socially just, and economically viable.
To achieve sustainability literacy, a student should:
Know about the interconnections and interdependency of ecological, social, and economic systems. They should demonstrate understanding of how the health of these systems determines the sustainability of natural and human communities and cultures at local, regional, national, and global levels.
Be engaged in inquiry and systems thinking and use information gained through learning experiences in, about, and for the environment to understand the structure, components, and processes of natural and human-built environment
Be prepared to use the above knowledge and skills to apply them in the service of society in solving climate and environmental issues and to incorporate these principles in their professional and civic life.
Sustainability research is the systematic investigation of social, environmental, and economic solutions towards a more sustainable world. Sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainability Focused Community Engagement
Sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainability-focused community engagement serves to meet a need identified and agreed on by community stakeholders and assists the community as it moves towards ecological soundness, social justice, and economic viability.