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Sustainability is a popular but contested concept. At its most basic it refers to the maintenance of systems, processes, and/or practices over time. This foundation course introduces students to transdisciplinary ways of understanding the contested history of ideas about sustainability in diverse fields of socio-ecological politics, and philosophy, Indigenous knowledge and environmental law, governance and leadership, and economics and environmental management. Taught through four modules, the course will include a one day Marae field trip and small group field work. A pastoral emphasis supports cohort building and communication skills for advocacy and analysis.
Sustainability is a popular yet contested concept. It often refers to the maintenance of systems, processes, and/or practices over time. The 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development or ‘Bruntland Report’ argued, “(h)umanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (WCED 1987, p 5). But sustainability has wider meanings for example in many Indigenous knowledge systems the focus is on attending to relationships and “healthy communal living” taking into consideration skills, reflexivity, competences for wellbeing and coexistence including, emotional, spiritual, economic, and social” (Vitanen et. al. 2020).This foundation course introduces students to the contested history of ideas about sustainability in diverse fields of socio-ecological politics, and philosophy; Indigenous knowledges, legal systems and environmental justice, governance and leadership, economics and business and the implication for this variety of perspectives for contemporary and future sustainability. Taught through four modules, the course will include a one-day Marae/community field trip and small group field work. A pastoral emphasis supports cohort building and communication skills for sustainability advocacy and analysis.
On successful completion of the course, students will be able to:Critically compare and contrast how claims of sustainability are made in different cultures over time and the implications of these claims for thinking sustainability in what sustainability means for Iwi, local, and regional governments, in Treaty and national legislation and everyday decision-making contexts in New Zealand and small states of the Pacific. Compare and contrast how diverse epistemologies conceive sustainability and implications for just processes to promote sustainability for all, including justice as rights (individuals, communities, indigenous peoples, animal, Earth) and substantive justice relating to fairness and allocation of resources. Critically analyse the relevance of sustainable development goals for socio-ecological challenges for example, climate mitigation and adaptation in business from local to global levels Identify and explain how sustainability has been contested in International trade and legal agreements and in the context of thinking about multi-generations and non-human species locally and globally. Demonstrate how to conduct field observations and community interviews in line with ethical best practice .Present academic arguments and evidence in writing and in small group and class discussion contests.Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of kawa and protocols on a Marae and of engaging with a community to understand and reflect on sustainability issues, aspirations and concerns.
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:
Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award
Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.
Employable, innovative and enterprising
Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.
Biculturally competent and confident
Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.
Engaged with the community
Students will have observed and understood a culture within a community by reflecting on their own performance and experiences within that community.
Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.
Students must attend one activity from each section.
Domestic fee $921.00
International fee $3,850.00
* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.
For further information see
Language, Social and Political Sciences