Sustainability involves practices "that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
— Gro Harlem Brundtland, Our Common Future (1987)
Humanity has reached a crossroads in its relationship with the natural world. As our technology and productivity have grown, humans have caused unprecedented changes in the functioning of natural systems to meet growing demands for food, fresh water, fiber, and energy. Over-exploitation of resources, global climate change, species extinction, and loss of biodiversity have all focused attention on the need to better understand, protect, and manage the natural and modified environments around us. Solving these problems will require a capacity to handle complexity and uncertainty, as well as the application of different methods of analysis and different approaches to governance and community engagement.
The concept of sustainability has grown in popularity in recent decades as a new way of thinking about humans’ relationship to the planet and to one another. Although sustainability has been widely discussed in the fields of ecology, economics, and conservation, the challenge of sustainability extends beyond how we use natural resources to larger questions of social justice and human health. While sustainability clearly concerns natural systems on which life depends, it simultaneously engages quality of life issues that include personal accountability and social, economic, and political considerations. Engaging sustainability on this broader basis must include these considerations: What exactly do we want to sustain and why? What current and future needs are we working to meet?
Therefore, the Common Experience theme for 2010-2011 is "Sustainability: Science, Policy, and Opportunity," an interdisciplinary theme that affects all students, staff, faculty, and administrators of Texas State, as well as the San Marcos community. Because of the integrative nature of the problems that humanity faces, the only way in which these problems can be realistically addressed is through interdisciplinary dialogue, outreach, and education. The capacity of humanity to adapt in a dynamic world that is constantly presenting new challenges is essential in the 21st century.
The questions and challenges embedded within the sustainability enterprise require the input of all members of the university community and beyond. Indeed, issues of sustainability not only involve an understanding of our history, but compel us to look ahead to the future. The challenges facing Texas State students are many, but a central topic of concern revolves around sustainability. Changes in behavior and social policy, building scientific understanding, connecting the local and the global, and reshaping values are all crucial components to a "sustainability revolution" — an opportunity for the Texas State community to embrace and actively participate in the science and practice of sustainability.
► For an overview of the Common Experience at Texas State click here
► Sustainability at Texas State click here