An Introduction to Sustainability

An Introduction to Sustainability : Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives

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An Introduction to Sustainability provides students with a comprehensive overview of the key concepts and ideas which are encompassed within the growing field of sustainability.

The book teases out the diverse but intersecting domains of sustainability and emphasises strategies for action. Aimed at those studying the subject for the first time, it is unique in giving students from different disciplinary backgrounds a coherent framework and set of core principles for applying broad sustainability principles within their personal and professional lives. These include: working to improve equality within and across generations, moving from consumerism to quality of life goals and respecting diversity in both nature and culture.

Areas of emerging importance such as the economics of happiness and wellbeing stand alongside core topics including:

Energy and society

Consumption and consumerism

Risk and resilience

Waste, water and land.

Key challenges and applications are explored through international case studies and each chapter includes a thematic essay drawing on diverse literature to provide an integrated introduction to fundamental issues.

Launched with the brand-new Routledge Sustainability Hub, the book's companion website contains a range of features to engage students with the interdisciplinary nature of Sustainability. Together these resources provide a wealth of material for learning, teaching and researching the topic of sustainability.

This textbook is an essential companion to any sustainability course.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 310 pages
  • 174 x 246 x 25.4mm | 726g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 3 Tables, black and white
  • 0415706432
  • 9780415706438

Table of contents

1. Introduction Part 1: History, Key Concepts and Operating Principles 2. History of the Concept; Key Issues and Principles 3. Consumption and Consumerism 4. Global Challenges and the Wicked Problem of Global Climate Change 5. Beyond Oil Dependency 6. Questions of Scale 7. Sustainability Models and Concepts 8. Risk and Resilience Part 2: Finding Focus and Taking Action 9. Environmental Dimensions 10. Social Dimensions 11. Personal Dimensions 12. Taking Action 13. Forecasting, Planning and Monitoring Part 3: Key Challenges and Applications 14. Water and Marine Environments 15. Land, Food and Biodiversity 16. Urban Challenges 17. Rethinking Waste
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Review quote

"With great clarity, this book lays out the challenges facing all of us if we are to avoid a future defined by increasing economic inequity, ecological demolition and social disarray. Yet, unlike many books on this subject, this plain-speaking textbook is infused with compassion and hope. The result is vitalising. Readers will come away not only informed on a wide variety of topics, from climate change to collaborative consumption, but empowered to turn difficult questions into powerful tools of inquiry, creativity and transformation. Casting aside polarising and simplistic answers, Mulligan recasts talk of sustainability as the essential personal and collective human quest to truly ennoble the world." -Aidan Davison, University of Tasmania, Australia

"At a time when problems like global warming and the negative impacts of economic globalization are becoming intense and urgent, Martin Mulligan has re-energised the idea of sustainable development in a book that is accessible, informative, and full of hopeful alternatives." -Peter Christoff, University of Melbourne, Australia

"This book excels in crossing boundaries. Mulligan links action at the global and local levels, combines social and ecological sustainability perspectives with the personal, and tells many stories without losing analytical rigor. He approaches sustainability with a solution-oriented perspective, without adhering to the bias of a single discipline or framework. An Introduction to Sustainability ventures deeply and effectively into treacherous academic terrain, ultimately providing hope without sugarcoating the reality of our current unsustainable path." -Mike Shriberg, University of Michigan, USA

"I would happily recommend this as a core introductory text for a 1st year undergraduate module on environmental issues as it covers so many of the most important challenges with critical appreciation while retaining a sense of optimism too." -Sam Randalls, University College London, UK

"Discussions of systems thinking, agency and cultural vitality suggest a positive outlook that is particularly stimulating and empowering for students." -Phoebe Crisman, University of Virginia, USA

"This is a timely and much-needed book, written by experienced university educators who know how to engage with students and spark and sustain their interest. This involves being engaging and hopeful - and having the skill to explain quite complex ideas in a lucid, meaningful way." -Allan Johnstone, Murdoch University, Australia

"Mulligan's book puts together the social, political, ecological and the personal in a seamless integration of thinking that students will find refreshing and accessible. The focus in this book is on change - and especially on encouraging a hopeful sense in all its readers that everyone can be an agent for transformative change toward global sustainability. To embark on a sustainability journey with this book in hand is truly to do as Mulligan insists and `travel hopefully'." -Libby Porter, RMIT University, Australia

"This book provides an excellent introduction to different perspectives of sustainability, covering a wide range of topics from key concepts and classic case studies to the emerging challenges to sustainability that we face, but ultimately with its emphasis on personal perspectives it encourages us all, as the title of the first essay says, 'to travel hopefully'" -Zoe Robinson, Keele University, UK

""Sustainability," like a fad diet, often provokes an oscillation between complacency and despair; Mulligan avoids both. He revitalizes key concepts that have veered toward sacred-cow status, but also (and equally importantly) is explicit that we must "travel hopefully" toward deep systemic change. His "RMIT Principles" are among the clearest I've seen as a guide toward personal, professional, and civic action." -Kim Sorvig, University of New Mexico, USA

"Building upon seminal documents from the sustainability literature, and his own experiences, Martin Mulligan succeeds in presenting us with a personal, yet compelling, journey into the meaning and implications of sustainability, and invites us to seek for ourselves its meaning in our daily lives. The book complements the many sustainability-oriented textbooks that emphasize complex interactions within the ecosphere, juxtaposing these with the equally complex nature of human thought." -Thomas L. Theis, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
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About Martin Mulligan

Martin Mulligan is Associate Professor and a senior lecturer in the Sustainability and Urban Planning teaching program in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies (GUSS) at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.
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