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At Uni Zurich

Lecture 'Sustainability and Society' (UWW 174)

Sustainability builds on the ability of people to responsibly shape the future and to change it through innovation. However, the readiness for sustainable change requires a contextual and dynamic understanding of sustainability in society.

The dynamic and contextual understanding of sustainability is deeply anchored in the 27 principles of the 1992 Rio Declaration of the United Nations (UN). The new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda build on this again.

The lecture 'Sustainability and Society' focuses on those SDGs that aim to tackle the major poverty, migration, human rights and environmental problems in the 21st century through inclusive and sustainable growth. The aim is to shed light on what is meant by such growth and whether there can actually be growth that is in the service of sustainability. It will also examine the extent to which voluntary action (LOHAS, private standards, corporate social responsibility initiatives), government regulation and incentive systems, and innovation can lead to a more sustainable use of natural resources and better access to human rights. Finally, basic distinctions will be made between morality and fear in the sustainability discourse as well as between the challenges of sustainability in the South and the North.

The aim of the lecture is to familiarise students with different perspectives on sustainability at the local and global level and to critically examine different forms of sustainability rhetoric in the private sector, in civil society and in governmental organisations.