Sustainability for all

Project A1-10

Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Dominique Bourg
University of Lausanne
Faculty of Geosciences and Environment, Geography and Sustainability Institut

Involved universities:
University of Lausanne

01.09.2013 - 31.12.2016

Lay summary:
The course begins with a planetary assessment of the two issues founding the idea of sustainable development: the unequal distribution of wealth on earth and environmental degeneration. Regarding ecological problems, we will focus above all on resource scarcities (fossil fuels, minerals, metals and biotic resources) and perturbations of the biosphere's system (climate change, biodiversity loss, etc.). From this global outlook, we will highlight the five main characteristics of contemporary environmental problems. We will show that pollution problems are only marginal in that respect. These five characteristics will enable us to evaluate the depth and the specificity of the problems we are facing today.
Subsequently, we will turn to the possible social responses to these environmental difficulties, as we find them in the international specialised literature. We will review four different scenarios: the fundamentalist scenario inspired by radical ecology movements; the authoritarian scenario theorised by the philosopher Hans Jonas; the sustainable development scenario initiated by the Brundtland report; and the "prosperity without growth" scenario inspired by Tim Jackson and other authors. Each of these scenarios will be critically assessed.

University of Lausanne
bachelor course
geosciences and environment
ecological problems
characteristics of environmental problems
environmental scenarios


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