For the Fall 2010 academic quarter, we will be looking at sustainability in the Portland area (broadly defined) through the lens of equity.
I’ve facilitated these courses since the Winter 2009 quarter, and I’ve consistently found that the majority of students don’t immediately think of equity issues when considering sustainability; most of them readily think of economic and ecological topics, but not necessarily equity, social justice, etc. That students tend to come to class with this perspective suggests an opportunity to bring this dynamic to the forefront for educational purposes. This quarter, then, I sought to address this issue directly and engage my students more explicitly with one of the Brundtland Commission’s three co-equal pillars: equity.
As we did Spring and Summer 2010, we began the quarter with some broad readings and discussion on the definition(s) of sustainability (student posts here, here, and here). In Week 3, we read a selection of viewpoints specifically on social sustainability (a.k.a., equity) and a couple of sources critical of sustainability.
The course began to get out of the higher, misty elevations of theory and into the clear valley of practical application during Week 3. Dianne Riley, Equity Agenda Coordinator at the Coalition for a Livable Future (CLF), visited our class on Thursday, Oct. 14, to showcase the CLF’s work and discuss the content and implications of the CLF’s Regional Equity Atlas. After this discussion, Dianne helped connect students with CLF community partners so that students could identify interviewees and begin their interview question research (which will continue for the next couple of weeks).
Next week, we begin to learn about the fundamentals of oral history interviewing through reading, lecture, and by practicing interview sessions. This training will segue into discussion about how to formulate effective interview questions and conducting interviewee-specific research to learn more about the community members we’ll be interviewing.
 These sources were:
Jan Babbington and Jesse Dillard, “Social Sustainability: An Organizational-Level Analysis,” in Jesse Dillard, Veronica Dujon, and Mary C. King, eds., Understanding the Social Dimension of Sustainability (London: Routledge, 2009), 157-173.
Daniel Bonevac, “Is Sustainability Sustainable?” Academic Questions 23:1 (2010), 20-53.
Gary L. Larsen, “An Inquiry into the Theoretical Basis of Sustainability,” in Jesse Dillard, Veronica Dujon, and Mary C. King, eds., Understanding the Social Dimension of Sustainability (London: Routledge, 2009), 45-82.
Kristen Magis and Craig Shinn, “Emergent Principles of Social Sustainability,” in Jesse Dillard, Veronica Dujon, and Mary C. King, eds., Understanding the Social Dimension of Sustainability (London: Routledge, 2009), 15-44.
Glenn M. Ricketts, “The Roots of Sustainability,” Academic Questions 23:1 (2010), 84-101.