Sustainability Column: Learning Green

When surveying your options for class registration, it can seem difficult to find courses that consider sustainability, unless you’re an Environmental Studies major, that is. Climate change is the singular most pressing issue we face, and our Colgate education should reflect this. Our access to a liberal arts education enables us to be the front-runners of a more evolved and flexible implementation of this complex definition of sustainability, but we must first realize how sustainability can be accessed through each of our chosen disciplines. 

As course registration approaches, keep in mind that taking a class within a non-environmental discipline can still engage with sustainability in a multitude of ways, from social justice issues, to political conflicts created by limited natural resources to the development of urban areas. 

Because the colloquial definition of sustainability has been over simplified, overused and over-applied, sustainability as a whole continues to suffer as a concept. By understanding sustainability as more than just a term for politicians and marketing, we can begin to create a culture where sustainability has more than one primary connotation. 

So, to get a start on this task, here are some courses that are being offered next fall that can help you get a better handle on how sustainability can be more than just “green”: History of Culture-Caribbean, Introduction to Economics, Inclusive & Special Education, Contemporary Native American Literature, Race & Ethnicity in Latin America, Topics in International Trade and Introduction to Philosophical Problems. 

In these courses, Colgate students can approach sustainability from historical, cultural, scientific and economic perspectives, contributing to a more fluent and well-developed skill set. Being sustainable means having the ability to withstand fluxes and challenges, and when applied to issues of social justice, it means that equality and equity are present within human interactions. This then carries over to economics. In an increasingly globalized market, developing countries and the Global South are now challenged, more than ever, to keep up in the treadmill of production. Current social and economic inequalities are products of historical and modern influences, and understanding this allows us to analyze how sustainability plays a role in these issues. Much like ecosystems, social and economic issues are completely interrelated and dependent upon one another, and must receive equal attention as do environmental issues if we are to begin to build a more sustainable future. By having a greater understanding of how and why these issues are connected to sustainability, Colgate students can benefit more deeply from their liberal arts education and will be better equipped to embody sustainable thought and action within their chosen fields.