Assignment: Analysis of sustainability concepts and debates
The purpose of this assessment is for you to demonstrate:
- your understanding of key sustainability concepts and
- your ability to apply concepts to contemporary debates or challenges.
Your essay will explain: how your chosen lens understands and explains this contemporary issue as a a sustainability challenge, explains how it has come about (what causes it), and what the framework would direct social change action or intervention toward to address this sustainability challenge.
There are, therefore, two key aspects to this assignment. The first requires you to explain and demonstrate understanding of a conceptual framework. The second asks you to apply your chosen framework to an example or case of a sustainability challenge. Both these aspects must be present in the essay to pass this assessment.
Step 1 – choose one of the following conceptual frameworks (more guidance below):
- Transition Theory
- Climate Change Adaptation ( Choose this one)
- Political Ecology
- Social Practice Theory
Step2–applythis frameworktoacontemporarysustainabilityissue(moreguidancebelow). It is recommended that you discuss your selection of conceptual framework, and your selected sustainability case / example with the course coordinator. We will set aside time in tutorials to discuss.
To write your essay, you will need to explain and discuss your chosen framework or ‘lens’. Then you will need to critically examine your chosen sustainability issue or challenge (case example) through that lens to discuss: how does your chosen lens explain why this is a sustainability challenge, how and why it has come about, and what might be done about it? Consider the following questions:
- How does your chosen framework understand what sustainability actually is and why sustainability problems or challenges occur? What are the ‘root
causes’ of sustainability problems when seeing through your chosen conceptual lens?
- What does your chosen framework suggest are the most useful or productive ways of achieving more sustainable outcomes – or in other words, what does your chosen lens argue about achieving social change for sustainability?
- What actors, structures, scales or sectors does your chosen framework primarily address?
- Where does the framework locate the main influence of social change? (eg government and formal policy, shifts in power relations, change in business practice, technological innovation?)
- What kinds of strategies for responding to this sustainability challenge does your chosen framework suggest, inform or influence?
- What are the limitations of your chosen conceptual framework for informing social change toward more sustainable outcomes?
Step1:Chooseaconceptualframework.Here is a kickstarter reading list for each of these conceptual frameworks.
Adger,W.N.,Arnell,N.W.,Tompkins,E.2005 Successful adaptation to climate change across scales, GlobalEnvironmentalChange15 (2005) 77–86
Adger, W.N., Lorenzoni, I. and O’Brien, K.L. 2009, ‘Adaptation Now’ in Adger, W.N., Lorenzoni, I. and O’Brien, K.L. 2009, Adaptingtoclimatechange:Thresholds,Values,Governance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. E-book available in library.
Fussel,H-M.,2007 Adaptation planning for climate change: concepts, assessment approaches, and key lessons, SustainabilityScience2:265–275
Bosomworth, K. 2018 A discursive–institutional perspective on transformative governance: A case from a fire management policy sector, EnvironmentalPolicyandGovernance, 28:415-425.
Howard, J. 2009, ‘Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Developed Nations: A Critical Perspective on the Adaptation Turn in Urban Climate Planning’, in Crawford, J., Davoudi, S. & Mehmood, A. (eds.) Planning for Climate ChangeStrategies for Mitigation and Adaptation for Spatial Planners, pp. 19-32. Ebook available in library.
Keskitalo,E.C.H.,Juhola,S.,Baron,N.,Fyhn,H.&Klein,J.2016(Linkstoanexternal site.), Implementing Local Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Actions: The Roles of Various Policy Instruments in a Multi-Level Governance Context, Climate, 4(7).
Frantzeskaki,N.,McPhearson,T Download Frantzeskaki, N., McPhearson, T., Collier, M.J., Kendal, D., Bulkeley, H., Dumitru, A., Walsh, C., Noble, K., Van Wyk, E., Ordóñez, C., Oke, C., and Pintér, L. (2019) “Nature-Based Solutions for Urban Climate Change Adaptation: Linking Science, Policy, and Practice Communities for Evidence-Based Decision-Making.” Bioscience69(6): 455-66.
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