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The Sustainability Stew


A group of IGERT trainees from several universities have come together to explore the question, Just what IS sustainability? Gathered at a recent conference for sustainability-themed IGERTS, a group of trainees from the Universities of Alaska, Idaho, and Delaware noted that many professionals (academics, government employees, policy makers), as well as the general public, struggle with the definition and use of this widely-used term. The group noted that all of the concepts involved in sustainability are frequently lumped together to make a stew, but oftentimes the recipe for that stew is hard to find. They decided to create one recipe for Sustainability Stew – a helpful guide for those working with sustainability issues.

The major goal of the project is to publish the Sustainability Stew guide on a website and/or appropriate journal for availability to graduate students, school teachers, government employees, professors, consulting firms, policy makers, and so on. The trainees are currently bringing the guide to various groups of potential users (such as college classrooms) for feedback. The classroom exercises address the inherent interdisciplinarity of sustainability, the broad scale of problems (local to global), and the ethical issues that can arise (i.e, how important is it that we leave resources available for our grandchildren if people today are starving?).

The trainees are hopeful that the discussion guide, Sustainability stew: A recipe for thinking about sustainability issues, will become a helpful cross-disciplinary teaching tool for clarifying thinking around the topic of sustainability.

Address Goals

  • Improves scientific literacy through providing a cross-disciplinary teaching tool.
  • Fosters research through improving communication among disciplines.