Week Two: Supporting Materials

In this post you’ll find discussion questions for this week’s reading. The questions are intended to guide you through your reading.

Caradonna, J. (2014). Introduction. Sustainability: a history (pp. 1-20). Oxford University Press.

What sorts of industries does “sustainability” cut across, according Caradonna?

What are some initial challenges leveled at “sustainability”?

Take a look at the way that the Fig.1. graph illustrates, “But since 1980 there has been an explosion of books and articles not only use those words as titles but also deal with the many facets of sustainability” (2).

How does Caradonna define the term “sustainability”? Are any of the terms 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?

What other movements or terms does “sustainability” subsume?

Do you agree that “sustainability” is a “galvanizingly powerful term” (3)? That is, what or who is sustained? In whose interests do we sustain communities and ecosystems?

As a descriptive term, how does “sustainability” differ from some of the terms/movements that it subsumes? For instance, what does “Sustainability” communicate that say, “Climate Change” or “Global Warming” cannot? What do either of the other terms do that “sustainability” cannot?

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

What are the socio/economic conditions under which the term emerged?

What material processes does “substantiality” seek to redress, counter act, or adapt to?

What forces does “sustainability” seek to counteract?

Who does Caradonna call “sustainists”? What are their goals?

What’s your assessment of the rhetorical gestures in the following sentence: In short, for those who embrace sustainability in the fullest sense—as an environmental, social, economic, and political ideal—we’re at a crossroads in our civilization. There are two paths to take: continue with business as usual, ignore the science of climate change, and pretend that our economic system isn’t on life support or remake and redefine our society along the lines of sustainability” (5).

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

Is “sustainability” and endpoint or a process?

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

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?

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

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

Grabill, J. T. & W. & Simmons, M. (1998). Toward a critical rhetoric of risk communications: producing citizens in the role of technical communications. Technical Communications Quarterly 7(4), 415-441

What are/were “Predominate Linear Models for Risk Communication”? How/why do Grabill, et. al. challenge those models?

What is the “critical rhetoric” risk communication?

What’s a typical definition of “Risk Communication”?

What are some drawbacks to that definition of risk communication above?

What are the current (1990’s) Approaches of Risk Assessment and Communication, Technocratic, Negotiated, Risk as Socially Constructed?

What is Participatory democracy and why do do Grabill and Simmons ultimately suggest it as a model for risk communication?

Why study Climate Change as an object of inquiry for questions of deliberative democracy?


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