Expert Speaks on “Social Science” of Sustainability


"Just sustainabilities" is the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.

Tufts University Professor Julian Agyeman will be speaking at Prescott College Saturday August 11, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. in the Crossroads Community Room on the topic of “Just Sustainabilities: Re-imagining E/quality, Living Within Limits.” Agyeman’s expertise and research interests critically explore aspects of the complex and embedded relations between humans and the environment, whether mediated by institutions or social movement organizations, and the effects of this on public policy and planning processes and outcomes, particularly in relation to notions of justice and equity.

In his presentation, Professor Agyeman will talk about his concept of “just sustainabilities,” described as “the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems,” distinguishing it from the necessary, but not sufficient dominant discourse of environmental sustainability.

Richly illustrated with cases from around the world, and ideas from different academic traditions from geography and urban planning, through economics and ecology, to race and culture, he will help the audience make connections that they may not have thought of.

Ultimately he argues that we have: a) the science of sustainability, but not the social science (we know technically what we need to do, but politically we're not doing it); b) we need to see environmental quality and human equality as inextricably interlinked; and c) we need to invest in human potential and flourishing as much as we do environmental potential and flourishing.

There will be an open workshop in the Crossroads Community Room the following Sunday morning at 8 a.m. titled “Just Sustainabilities: Re-imagining E/quality, Living Within Limits II.” This workshop will allow for, in an open discussion format, going far deeper into the substantive issues Agyeman raises during his keynote presentation. Both events are free and open to the public.

About Julian Agyeman, Ph.D. FRSA

Julian Agyeman is Professor and Chair of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, Boston. He is originator of the concept of “just sustainabilities,” the integration of social/spatial justice and sustainability. He is co-founder, and co-editor of the international journal Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability.

With over 150 publications, his books include:

 Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World  (MIT Press 2003)

Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice (NYU Press 2005)

The New Countryside? Ethnicity, Nation and Exclusion in Contemporary Rural Britain (The Policy Press 2009)

Speaking for Ourselves. Environmental Justice in Canada (The University of British Columbia Press 2009)

Environmental Justice and Sustainability in the Former Soviet Union (MIT Press 2009)

Environmental Inequalities Beyond Borders: Local Perspectives on Global Injustices (MIT Press 2011)

Cultivating Food Justice : Race, Class and Sustainability (MIT Press 2011).

Agyeman is Series Editor of Just Sustainabilities: Policy, Planning and Practice (Zed Books). He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA), a member of the Boards of Massachusetts Audubon Society and Second Nature, and the Advisory Board of the Center for Diversity and the Environment, and is on the Editorial Boards of Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, and the Australian Journal of Environmental Education. He was also founder, in 1988, of Britain’s Black Environment Network (BEN).

To learn more visit his Tufts website, blog, academic journal, or Twitter.