By Tischa A. Muñoz-Erickson and Thaddeus R. Miller
* Op-Ed previously published on February 2009 in the Newsletter of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE), Pages 24-25; http://www.ecoeco.org/pdf/Feb2009.pdf
Newsletter editor: Bernardo Aguilar-González
In the fall of 2007, we joined twenty-eight other students as the first class in the School of Sustainability (SOS) at Arizona State University. As one of the nation’s first schools to offer degrees in Sustainability, we knew that we were embarking on an experiment. Previous training in environmental science and policy, as well as exposure to transdiciplinary fields such as ecological economics, which work across academic disciplines and in conjunction with society, partially prepared us for the problems and opportunities that arise when obtaining a degree in Sustainability.
Building knowledge for sustainability demands exposure to such academic backgrounds, and much more. The School of Sustainability has brought in students and faculty from completely different fields, such as anthropology, ecology, economics, engineering, geography, geology, and the humanities, to engage with each other and sustainability. This unique blend of personnel has a profound effect on the way we work across academic disciplines and approach real-world issues.
As we–students and future scholars and practitioners in the field–attempt to build knowledge for sustainability that will contribute to solutions for society’s problems, we face what we see as three key questions:
1) How do we become agents of change, while working in the context of academic institutional constraints?
2) How do academic institutions balance the production of more stable, disciplinary knowledge with innovative knowledge for sustainability?
3) How do programs like SOS develop and maintain an identity while adapting to an evolving societal discourse around sustainability?
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