Sustainable Development: Theory, Research and Policy

Course Info

Course Number/Code: 17.182 (Spring 2006)
Course Title: Sustainable Development: Theory, Research and Policy
Course Level: Undergraduate / Graduate
Offered By: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Department: Political Science
Course Instructor(s): Prof. Nazli Choucri
Course Introduction:
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This course examines alternative conceptions and theoretical underpinnings of the notion of "sustainable development." It focuses on the sustainability problems of industrial countries (i.e., aging of populations, sustainable consumption, institutional adjustments, etc.); and of developing states and economies in transition (i.e., managing growth, sustainability of production patterns, pressures of population change, etc.). It also explores the sociology of knowledge around sustainability, the economic and technological dimensions and institutional imperatives along with implications for political constitution of economic performance.

17.181 fulfills the undergraduate public policy requirement in the major and minor. Graduate students are expected to explore the subject in greater depth through reading and individual research (17.182).

Required Books

Choucri, Nazli. Global Accord: Environmental Challenges and International Responses. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995. ISBN: 9780262531344.

Becker, Egon, and Thomas Jahn, eds. Sustainability and the Social Sciences: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Integrating Environmental Considerations into Theoretical Reorientation. London, UK: Zed Books, 2000. ISBN: 9781856497084.

Stavins, Robert N. Economics of the Environment. 4th ed. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company, 2000. ISBN: 9780393975239.

Tainter, Joseph A. The Collapse of Complex Societies. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1988. ISBN: 9780521340922.

Web Site on Sustainable Development

Global System for Sustainable Development

CalendarCourse calendar.WEEK #TOPICSPart I. Content and Context 1Introduction: Debates, Definitions and Dilemmas2Evolving Conceptions - Causes and Consequences3Sustainability as a 'Knowledge Domain'4New Thinking and the Knowledge EconomyPart II. Actors, Processes and Institutions 5Critical Drivers, Social Mechanisms and Cognitive Factors6Economic Performance - Production and Consumption7Firms and Markets - Corporate Perspectives8From Sustainability 'Problems' to 'Solution' Strategies9Regulatory and Policy ContextsPart III. Strategic Approaches to Sustainability 10New International Institutional Contexts11International Trade and Intellectual Property Rights12Global Accord - Next Rounds