What is sustainability? It has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is from 'Our Common Future', also known as the Brundtland Report (1987) which refers to 'development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.' While the concept of sustainability has its roots in the natural sciences, it is becoming evident that theories and practices of sustainability are of relevance in social and cultural studies as much as biophysical relationships.
The module begins with an examination of the wide-ranging definitions of sustainability and of the contribution to the discourse from Humanities subjects. We proceed to analyse a range of case studies representing the four disciplines of Modern Languages in SECL at Kent: French, German, Italian and Hispanic Studies. The case studies highlight cultural practices ranging across time periods and geographies in which sustainable processes are key. They may include the cultural history of sustainability or 'Nachhaltigkeit' in the German context; the Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, Italy; the debate in psychoanalysis on the themes of exploitation/sustainability and competition/cooperation in relation to ecological practices and the environment; the works of Martinique author Patrick Chamoiseau and the challenges to French/Eurocentric concepts of sustainability; and the culture and practice of urban organic farming – organopónicos – that arose out of the economic crisis in Cuba in the 1990s and which have circular economics, cultural development and educational practices at their core.
The module concludes with a consideration of how the case studies illustrate theories and practices of sustainability, and how in turn they may be considered catalysts for further engagement in questions of sustainability
This module appears in the following module collections.
Total Contact Hours: 20
Method of assessment
Essay 1 (1,500 words) – 50%
Essay 2 (1,500 words) – 50%
Indicative Reading List:
Bartlett, P.F. and G.W. Chase, eds. (2004). Sustainability on Campus: Stories and Strategies for Change. Cambridge: MIT Press
Beckerman, W. (1994). "Sustainable Development: Is it a Useful Concept?" Environmental Values 3: 191-209. Winwick: The White Horse Press
Dobson, A. (2003). Citizenship and Environment. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Filho, W.L. & A.G. Consorte-McCrea, eds. (2018). Sustainability and the Humanities. Cham, Switzerland: Springer
Kopnina, H. & E. Shoreman-Ouimet, eds. (2015). Sustainability: Key Issues. London: Routledge
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Engage critically with multiple and complex meanings of the terms 'sustainable' and 'sustainability';
Demonstrate a critical understanding of the transnational need for sustainable cultural models;
Demonstrate an appreciation of ways in which ethnicities, cultures, geographies and languages maintain difference and diversity whilst sharing common pressures, practices and goals;
Apply concepts of sustainability to a range of different social and cultural contexts.
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Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
- ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
- The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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