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Sustainability: What Everyone Needs to Know®
Sustainability: What Everyone Needs to Know®
  • Provides a thorough introduction to sustainability's history and its major stakeholders
  • Walks the reader through key concepts that have guided policy and scholarship on sustainability
  • Encompasses a diverse range of sustainability's applications, including climate change, profitable business models, social justice, and governance
  • Grounded in systems thinking and written without technical jargon, emphasizes larger systems concepts over details
  • Combines authors' areas of expertise to cover environmental ethics, agriculture, and economics of sustainability among other angles on the topic series

While politicians, entrepreneurs, and even school children could tell you that sustainability is an important and nearly universal value, many of them, and many of us, may struggle to define the term, let alone trace its history. What is sustainability? Is it always about the environment? What science do we need to fully grasp what it requires? What does sustainability mean for business? How can governments plan for a sustainable future?
This short, accessible book written in the signature question-and-answer format of the What Everyone Needs to Know® series tackles these and numerous other questions. Sustainability is a porous topic, which has been adapted and reshaped for developing ecological models, improving corporate responsibility, setting environmental and land-use policies, organizing educational curricula, and reimagining the goals of governance and democracy. Where other treatments of this topic tend to focus on just one application of sustainability, this primer encompasses everything from global development and welfare to social justice and climate change. With chapters that discuss sustainability in the contexts of profitable businesses, environmental risks, scientific research, and the day-to-day business of local government, it gives readers a deep understanding of one of the most essential concepts of our time.
Bringing to bear experience in natural resource conservation, agriculture, the food industry, and environmental ethics, authors Paul B. Thompson and Patricia E. Norris explain clearly what sustainability means, and why getting it right is so important for the future of our planet.


Chapter 1. What is Sustainability?
Chapter 2. Sustainability and Business
Chapter 3. Sustainability and Ecology
Chapter 4. Sustainability and Environmental Quality
Chapter 5. Sustainable Development
Chapter 6. Sustainability and Social Justice
Chapter 7. Sustainable Governance
Chapter 8. Sustainability in Science, Education, Religion, and the Arts
Chapter 9. Sustainability: What Everyone Needs to Ask

About the author: 

Paul B. Thompson is trained in philosophy and has spent a career of research and writing with a focus on technological risks and on ethical questions that arise in connection with agriculture and the food system. He is the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University, and author of numerous articles. His book From Field to Fork: Food Ethics for Everyone was published by Oxford University Press in 2015. It won the "Book of the Year" award for 2015 from the North American Society for Social Philosophy.
Patricia E. Norris is a natural resource economist with a specialization in the economics and policy of natural resources and the environment. Her academic career has focused on land and water management and policy with a focus on how public and private interests are reconciled. She is the Gordon and Norma Guyer and Gary L. Seevers Chair in Natural Resource Conservation at Michigan State University.

"Sustainability is the hot buzzword these days. Does it take a whole book to explain what it means? Yes and how lucky we are to have it. This is a book about how to think about what it takes to keep systems going. The Q and A format makes difficult and contested concepts especially easy to follow." -- Marion Nestle, Professor Emerita, New York University, and author of Let's Ask Marion: What You Need to Know about Food, Nutrition, and Health

"This book may surprise many readers by exploring sustainability from such diverse fields as business and scientific realms to social justice and the arts. Their lens of 'systems thinking' helps explain why sustainability and resilience increasingly dominates public and private sector agendas today." -- Christine Ervin, Former President and CEO, U.S. Green Building Council
"Thompson and Norris are some of the most distinguished academics in the field of sustainability. Although the book is clearly underpinned by a considerable body of evidence, the writing style is engaging and easily digestible. It will serve as an excellent introduction to the topic for students and curious readers alike." -- Michael Braungart, Chemist and Founder of EPEA International GmbH, and Co-Founder of MBDC

Product details

ISBN : 9780190883232

Paul B. Thompson; Patricia E. Norris
224 Pages
140 x 210 mm
Pub date
Feb 2021
What Everyone Needs to Know
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Sustainability: What Everyone Needs to Know®

Sustainability: What Everyone Needs to Know®

Sustainability: What Everyone Needs to Know®