Jonathan Hankins is pleased to have received and accepted the offer to participate in the National Science Foundation funded Integrated Network for Social Sustainability (INSS) as a representative of the Bassetti Foundation.
The overall goal of the network is to produce a clearer, more applicable definition of social sustainability, and to create opportunities for engaging colleagues, industries, and the broader public in discussions about social sustainability. The network is made up of individuals from various jobs and professions to consider social sustainability. The network aims to put those engaging with social sustainability in dialogue with one another to accelerate the rate at which we can all understand this important aspect of sustainability more fully.
Housed at UNC Charlotte (North Carolina, USA), the INSS has a cross-disciplinary and multinational leadership. Resources include a blog and listserv, and the network hold annual meetings, the next of which is slated for April 4-6, 2014. Details and videos of last year’s meeting are available on the website through the link above.
Within its remit the network has two major project initiatives, social sustainability education and linguistic analysis:
Social sustainability education
An integral part of developing a better working definition of social sustainability is helping students think about sustainability in complex ways. For this reason, an educational component is included in this network. Students from UNC Charlotte will take a course on sustainability which will prepare them to travel and work with students in Cologne, London, Peru, and elsewhere, as they research how those areas have already addressed, and are still in the process of developing, sustainability policies.
While abroad, this research will take the form of mini-ethnographies, which students create in collaboration with students in their respective visiting urban areas. By collaborating with students abroad, UNCC students will become better informed about the specifics of how people in those areas have addressed social sustainability at the local, regional, and national levels; and they will think more broadly as well about how institutions and individuals both at home and abroad might revise the complex set of variables inherent to defining social sustainability when implementing strategies for sustainable development.
Students will present their research at the annual undergraduate sustainability conference on campus, and they will use what they have learned abroad when they participate in the annual INSS conference, where they will interact with and learn from scholars and practitioners in attendance.
Liz Miller is an associate Professor of applied linguist and member of the Steering Committee. Her participation in the network involves analysis of the language of the network by looking closely at the language produced by network members as they talk or write about social sustainability.
People think, talk and write about social sustainability somewhat differently depending on their research backgrounds or the kinds of sustainability applications that they’re involved in. This leads to the network wish to look at the language of the network members, in an attempt to understand what those differences are and what the implications might be.
The Bassetti Foundation finds herself in good company as participating member. Others involved in the network include the Centre for Sustainable Communications at the Royal Institute of Technology, the European Parliament, Oxfam and an incredible array of universities from across the globe.
We very much look forward to promoting and furthering the debate and participating in the meetings.
(Photo: Woven Heaven, Tangled Earth detail by Katy Silberger from Flickr)