The Cost of Sustainability

For this blog post I’ll be talking about a peer-reviewed article, Sense and Sustainability, by Svea Closser, a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont. She talks about teaching a new curriculum called Global Health. In her article she talks about how her students were able to “clearly and passionately articulate the health effects of poverty” but they couldn’t connect poverty with wealth (Closser, 2011). To help the students analyze the situation, she started teaching them about the economic connections of sustainability and sustainable farming/gardening. According to Closser, the definition of sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.” After reading a good amount of articles, the students were able to connect that the ‘unchecked’ capitalism creates unequal distribution between the wealthier and poorer countries. This allowed the students to conclude that the unequal global trade methods needed to be reformed to keep some of the poorer countries from being bought out and slid into poverty. Many believed that some countries would need to work to become completely self sufficient. However, Closser then turned to an example they were familiar with. They discussed a college garden that was not very big but provided many things such as a quiet learning area, vegetable for sale, and good hands on learning experiences. Even though the garden did not break even when considering paying the garden managers and the yearly vegetable sales, the students were quick to defend the sustainability of the garden. However, denounced it in poorer countries because they could not afford it. The students then realized that for in order for a society to be sustainable, they must become cooperative, not skewed, but equal. The students theorized that “the environmental and project use of sustainability intersects with global inequality”, as well as the ties that bind the rich and the poor (Closser, 2011).

For my own field work, I will be focusing on observing and discussing ways in which the garden culture views sustainability and what members of the garden culture do to contribute to environmental sustainability.

Article Citation:

Closser, Svea. “Sense and Sustainability.” Anthropology News (2011): 6. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.


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