Sustainability is a forward looking multi-disciplinary perspective that addresses both current and long-term economic, social, and environmental relations and concerns. It refers to the studied and planned use of human and non-human resources, with the goal of providing for future generations while maintaining quality of life today.
A new way of looking at the world and our future, sustainability, as an alternative paradigm to current consumer models of resource development and use, maintains opportunities for social and technological development. As a nascent bottom up paradigm shift, universities are poised to assume leadership roles locally and regionally toward developing sustainability programs within their various colleges and communities. Topics that sustainability addresses include:
- The ethics of allocation and use of natural resources
- The planning of more intentional and less consumptive communities (e.g., "Smart Growth"?)
- The research into agricultural practices and fisheries husbandry
- The design of energy-saving technologies, products, and services
- The education of consumers with regard to patterns of consumption, and the link between those patterns, history, technology, social and cultural prosperity, longevity, and perpetuity
- The reduction or elimination of waste by closing source-use-waste life-cycles of materials and products