Humanity as a whole used to live by the philosophies "Work hard, play hard" and "Live fast, die young". In the second half of the 20th century, though, it became clear that this could not go on. The planet we live on simply can't keep taking everything we throw at her and continue to function as it used to.
Sustainability studies are about more than the environment, though. There are plenty of social, economic, political, and ethical issues to consider if humanity is to continue to thrive. Some of these include:
- The concentration of global wealth and capital into the hands of a few individuals.
- The precipitous decline in marine fish stocks since the 1970s.
- The increasing influence of non-citizen participants in the democratic process.
- The rise in unemployment and underemployment among young adults.
All of these problems (among many others!) require a multi-disciplinary, multi-dimensional approach to understand. Sustainability studies curricula therefore include subjects from the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities. Research methodologies and ways of presenting conclusions effectively are emphasized, including through independent projects.
Sustainability studies majors typically care deeply about the worldwide dilemmas which, if not solved today, will have enormous impacts on future generations. In addition, they tend to be open-minded, curious, and willing to undertake significant research in order to understand complex problems.