Caradonna, Sustainability: A History (1-20)


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Jeremy Caradonna’s Introduction to Sustainability: A History (1-20). The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

1. How does Coradonna define the term “sustainability?” Are any of the terms that Caradonna uses to define sustainability at odds with one another? Can a society be, for example, both prosperous and ecologically minded? What tools does he suggest, if any, to deal with possible discrepancies?

2. What other movements or terms does “sustainability” subsume?

3. What or who is sustained in by the projects Caradonna sites? In whose interests do we sustain communities and ecosystems?

4. When did “sustainability” first emerge as an “explicit social, environmental, and economic ideal” (1)? What were some early responses to the term?

5. What are the socio/economic conditions under which sustainability and its attendant practices emerged?

6. What forces does “sustainability” seek to counter act?

7. In what ways is “sustainability” necessarily interdisciplinary? What disciplines does the sustainability movement draw upon?

8. Is “sustainability” and endpoint or a process?

9. What is the etymology of the term and how does the history of the word itself help audience make sense of its contemporary applications?

10. What does Caradonna mean when he says, “an ecological point of view” (8)?

11. What sorts of diagrams does Caradonna include? Spend a few minutes looking at the diagram on page 8, what ideas are represented and how do they overlap? How does the diagram of the “three E’s of sustainability” compare to the diagram on the facing page? What does the concentric circle model accomplish that the vendiagram cannot? Which of the two models is more successful and why?

12. Are economic systems both overlapping and independent, or are markets, as Daly argues, “’subsystems within the big biophysical system of ecological interdependence’” (9)?