Themes

The Quest for a Sustainable Future

How do we sustain a growing population with limited resources?

To be sustainable, we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainability proponents advocate for a better balance of social needs, resource consumption, and economic growth. In the quest for a sustainable future theme, you will examine sustainability from biological, political, physical, and spiritual perspectives—and consider sustainability’s effects on everything from social communities to ecosystems. You will look at sustainability in terms of lifestyle, storytelling, history, and science and even question the premise of sustainability itself:

  • What does it mean to live sustainably? Is sustainability an attainable and meaningful goal?
  • How do we tell stories—in literature, in film, in media new and old—about consumerism, economic inequality and affluence, environmental change and degradation, and more?
  • In what ways will the quest for sustainability define the coming century?
  • How have values systems in different times and places shaped our economic, social, and ecological behavior?
  • What are some meaningful metrics for assessing sustainability?
  • To what extent is sustainability a scientific problem versus a social issue?