Monday, September 10, 2012

Instructions for seminar 3 (Thu + Fri this week)

From Greger:

Sustainable development is not only about environmental sustainability, the two other "legs" of sustainability are economic and social sustainability. This course has for the most part dealt with environmental sustainability this far, but has also touched upon social aspects of sustainability (see literature, slides and your own notes from lectures by Brandt and Finnveden).

Mini Paper:
Your task is to write one page (roughly 500 words) about how social and economic sustainability is linked (or not) to environmental sustainability. Please make some explicit reference to lectures and literature in the course. Also feel welcome to contribute own reflections and references to sources outside of the course.

Your texts will constitute the basis for the discussions at the seminar so please be sure to bring them to the seminar! You will hand in your texts to the teachers at the end of the seminar - it is part of the requirements of passing the "sustainability basics" part of the course.

As a starting point, look at Greger's text about social sustainability below as well as the three pages from a book by Jeffrey Sachs (available in Bilda/Documents/Literature).

Aspects of the social dimension of sustainability, as interpreted by Greger

Social sustainability goals usually relate to the health (care), education, economic and social security, and social participation (see e.g. the UN Millennium Development Goals). In a sustainable society all people live and work in healthy environments, have access to health care and education, and exercise their influence in society under democratic forms.

These various aspects may be defined in terms of minimum levels for e.g. economic security (wages and benefits), education or health care. Concerning health, for example, people should at least have access to basic health care and also not risk getting ill from being exposed to serious health risks or injuries.

Even for social participation minimum levels could be defined, that have to do with civil rights as voting rights, freedom of expression, the right to organize trade unions, etc.

But sustainability is not just about minimum levels, it is also about the fair distribution of access to the above utilities. If there is a certain amount of, for example, health care or education available, this amount should be distributed in an equitable manner. This makes it specifically interesting to look at groups that are already ‘low’ in relation to one good or several of them. Which option means an increased equity in the distribution of these?

Fair procedures is a further aspect, since it is not only the current or final goal fulfillment that determines the degree of sustainability in a community. Also the political (democratic) and social procedures are important. Who can join and make their voices heard when decisions on important conditions in the local and national community, and in e.g. schools or workplaces, are made?


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