Unregulated increases in resource extraction, production, and consumption, as well as patterns of trade and investment, are contributing to long-term burdens on the Earth’s and environment that are beginning to threaten long-term ecological and human well-being and even survival. Sustainability requires more, however, than technological innovation and adaptation to changing conditions; it also depends on changes in social institutions, beliefs and practices, both locally and globally. How such changes are to be achieved is a critical question for interdisciplinary research and policy design. Sustainability must also a central focus of college education and public outreach, inasmuch as it cannot be accomplished without significant changes in preferences and practices on the part of the publics of both developed and developing countries
Projects within this focus include:
Sustainability Engineering and Ecological Design (SEED) is a five-year project to develop and implement a instructional and research curriculum focused on the planning, development and deployment of technological and social systems and institutions that can protect the earth’s ecological systems for this and future generations. SEED is a collaborative effort by UCSC faculty in four departments with the UCSC Education for Sustainable Living Project and other sustainability initiatives on campus. SEED seeks to mobilize growing student, campus and broader interest in environmental challenges and related social concerns. It also bridges the divide between Engineering and Social Sciences and will foster new research initiatives in “sustainability informatics.” Finally, SEED is planning to develop a professional MA degree program for corporate and mid-career professionals seeking to enhance their institutions’ capacity to pursue sustainable strategies and practices. During 2007-2008, SEED organizers will be co-teaching a new course, EE80S: Sustainability Engineering and Design (Fall ’07), and developing several other courses to be taught during Spring Quarter 2008, with the support of sustainability experts and businesses in the Monterey Bay area. Planning for future development and program growth will also be undertaken.
UCSC Summer Sustainability Institute, this is is series of evening seminars offering talks by faculty and other experts on topics related to sustainability. It is open to students, staff, faculty & the public. The location is the meeting room at the Program in Community and Ecology (PICA), in The Village (Lower Quarry). Sponsored by CGIRS, PICA, the Sustainability Engineering & Design Working Group, and others. This year's schedule can be viewed in PDF here.
The UC Atlas of Global Inequality, is an online teaching resource that provides information and tools to foster student and researcher exploration of global change and its effects on social structures and relations. Using the internet, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology and new graphical capabilities of digital media to enhance learning in Geography, Sociology, Economics, Health, Technology and Environmental Studies, the Atlas integrates data, maps, and graphs to create an interactive website for accessing and analyzing information addressing global change and inequality. More more information, see the web site of the Atlas at http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/
Securing Access to Water: Institutional Strategies for Coping with Drought and Water Scarcity. In California, as in many parts of the world, water shortages are an increasing threat. This is exacerbated by the assertion of claims to water by more diverse interests, resulting in intensified conflicts over how water should be allocated, used and managed when scarce. this project will provide a more multifaceted analysis of how three coastal California communities’ and their institutions frame and experience the problem of a lack of water, and then promote solutions. A key assertion is that “need” and “scarcity” are part of a single equation where a water shortage is “less than that which is needed.” The problem is that water planning in California typically involves static assessments of status to define water needs, and challenges to established patterns of water use and distribution are rare. In addition, the needs of both communities and their natural environment have generally been addressed as separate problems, and the impacts of policies and practices on powerfully coupled social and environmental systems have not been fully considered. The final goal of this project is to develop a more comprehensive framework to assess how different strategies can satisfy the water needs of all communities and ecosystems.
Energy Futures. The rising cost of oil, instability in oil-producing countries, and the apparent onset of global warming due to carbon loading in the atmosphere as a result of the burning of fossil fuels raise serious concerns about "Energy Futures." While much policy and research focuses on new technologies and revived ones, little attention is being paid to the social contradictions that must be addressed if a successful energy transition is to be achieved. For more information, see: "The Political Economy of Oil Today" and "The Allure of Alternatives."
WP #2005-1 Paper or Plastic? The Privatization of Global Forestry Regulation, Ronnie D. Lipschutz
WP #2004-5 Gender Relations and Access to Water: What we want to know about Social Relations and Women's Time Allocation, Jessica Roy and Ben Crow
REPRINT #2002-1 Gender, Class, and Access to Water:Three Cases in a Poor and Crowded Delta; Ben Crow and Farhana Sultana (October 21, 2002)