People talk a lot about sustainability, where social equity, economic stability, and environmental quality are balanced to produce a high quality of life for all. But it is not at all clear what that means in practice. In large part, this is because in the real world there is not broad agreement on what the future should be, or how we should get there. Thus, for example, there is wide disagreement in society about how aggressively climate change should be addressed, or how the existence of an endangered species should be balanced against jobs. The activist approach assumes that a particular ethical perspective is either universally accepted, or can be forced on society, but this tends to result in fragile and unworkable solutions. The Lincoln Center is exploring these issues by looking at sustainability ethics in the context of particular domains or problems. Thus, for example, the Lincoln Center is supporting research on sustainable engineering as a way to get all engineering to be more sensitive to environmental and social considerations, and the development of games in the classroom as a vehicle for extending the awareness and usefulness of sustainability ethics for students. Future work will, among other things, include the “Starship Program”. Working with NASA and others, this initiative will build a graduate educational program around the thought experiment of converting earth-bound humans into spacefarers facing a bewildering array of technical, cultural, governance, and ethical problems.
Applied Sustainability Ethics Menu