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Sustainability applies to everybody. But everybody applies it differently, by defining and shaping it differently—much as water is edged and shaped by its container. It is conceived in absolute terms but underpinned by a great diversity of relatively “green”—and sometimes contradictory—practices that can each make society only more or less sustainable. In Practicing Sustainability, chefs, poets, music directors, evangelical pastors, skyscraper architects, artists, filmmakers, as well as scientific leaders, entrepreneurs, educators, business executives, policy makers, and the contrarians, shed light on our understanding of sustainability and the role that each of us can play. Each contributor addresses what sustainability means, what is most appealing about the concept, and what they would like to change to improve the perception and practice of sustainability. What emerges from their essays is a wide spectrum of views that confirm an important insight: Sustainability is pursued in different ways not only due to different interpretations, but also because of varying incentives, trade-offs, and altruistic motives. Practicing and achieving sustainability starts with a willingness to look critically at the concept. It also means enabling rich and vigorous discussion based on pragmatism and common sense to determine a framework for best ideas and practices. With time and the much needed critical thinking, sustainable development will become a more integral part of our culture. By sharing experiences and crisp insights from today’s savants, Practicing Sustainability serves as a stepping stone to the future.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781489988980
Publisher: Springer New York
Publication date: 11/09/2014
Edition description: 2013
Pages: 244
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.02(d)

About the Author

Guruprasad Madhavan (Editor) is a program officer at the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council—collectively known as the National Academies—in Washington, DC.

Barbara Oakley (Editor) is an associate professor of engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and a former vice-president of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society.

David Green (Editor) is a MacArthur Fellow, Ashoka Fellow and is recognized by the Schwab Foundation as a leading social entrepreneur.

David Koon (Editor) represented the 135th district of the New York State Legislative Assembly from 1996 to 2010.

Penny Low (Editor) is a Member of Parliament of Singapore, and was the youngest elected female representative in 2001.

Michael Spence (Foreword) is William R. Berkley Professor in Economics and Business at New York University, and recipient of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Klaus Schwab (Editorial) is founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Robert Rubin (Editorial) is Co-Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as the 70th Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

George Whitesides (Editorial) is Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University.

M. S. Swaminathan (Afterword) is a Member of the Indian Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and a World Food Prize Laureate.

Table of Contents

Biographical Information
Preface, It’s Different: Sustainability and Touchy Trade-Offs, Editors
Foreword, Michael Spence
Editorial, Klaus Schwab
Editorial, Sustaining Sustainability: Thoughts on Managing Trade-Offs and Competing Considerations, Robert Rubin
Editorial, Sustainability: Can You Get There, If You Don’t Know Where “There” Is? George Whitesides

1. What Medical Equipment Taught Me About Sustainability, Robert Malkin
2. Food: The Ultimate Answer, José Andrés
3. A Village of Hope: The Interplay of Sustainability and Community Development, Mark Templer
4. Trade-Offs in Sustainable Development, Homi Kharas
5. Sustainable Skyscrapers and the Well-Being of the City, Richard Cook
6. Dimensional Stability, Heidi Williamson
7. Sustainability: A Tale of Twin Brothers, Ken Wilson
8. Cooperation and Sustainability, Simon Levin
9. The Sincerity of Purpose: Sustainability and World Peace, Arun Gandhi
10. Recycling Reinvented: Music and Sustainability, José-Luis Novo
11. Connectivity and Sustainability: Perspectives from Landscape and Urban Design, Diana Balmori
12. Nutrition and Sustainability, Marc Van Ameringen
13. A Poet in the Car Company: Sustainability of Passion and Profitability, David Berdish
14. The Need for Sustainable Heretics, Freeman Dyson
15. Performance with Purpose, Dave Haft
16. The Business of Sustainability: A Different Design Question, Gregor Barnum
17. Sustaining Population Health, Jacqueline Sherris
18. The Struggle to Make Sustainable Change in Global Health, Laurie Garrett and Zoe Liberman
19. Economic Growth and Sustainability Rooted in Financial Literacy, John Hope Bryant
20. Approaching the Future with Optimism, Robyn Beavers
21. A Decent Place to Live, Jonathan Reckford
22. From Field to Market: Changing our Focus, Gerald Steiner
23. Joules: The Currency of Sustainability, Chandrakant Patel
24. Spoons or Tractors: Sustainable Development as Rapid Productivity Growth in Developing Nations, Robert Atkinson
25. Unlocking the Energy of Business to Effect Change, Meg Crawford
26. Put it on Paper: Lowering Healthcare Costs, Una Ryan
27. Mind the Gap: A Different Take on Sustainability, Matthew Taylor
28. Sustainable Scientific Research, K.R. Sreenivasan
29. Energizing Sustainable Development, V.S. Ramamurthy and Narendar Pani
30. The Importance of Sustainability in Helping the Poor, Mechai Viravaidya
31. Why is Waste a Dirty Word? Melanie Walker
32. How Much Is Enough? Making It Personal, Toinette Lippe
33. Teaching Sustainability in the Anthropocene Era, Kai Lee and Richard Howarth
34. Don’t Sustain; Advance, Kevin Finneran
35. Changemakers for Sustainability, Karabi Acharya
36. What Social Entrepreneurs Taught me about Sustainability, Mirjam Schöning
37. An Emotional Connection with Sustainability through Documentary Films, Heather MacAndrew and David Springbett
38. Conserving Energy for Tomorrow without Sacrificing Quality of Our Lives, Scott Tew
39. Sustainability of Our Ocean Resources, James Barry
40. Will it Last? Will it Endure? Andrea Coleman and Barry Coleman
41. The Holistic Enchilada: Moving Toward Food System Sustainability, Wayne Roberts
42. Bringing Organizational Sustainability to Public Postsecondary Education, Christopher Hayter and Robert Hayter
43. Ensuring Connections, Harvey Locke
44. Beyond the Status Quo: Catalyzing Sustainability in the Arts, Jane Milosch
45. Historic Preservation: The Real Sustainable Development, Donovan Rypkema
46. Bending Toward Justice: The Search for Sustainable Energy, Michael Brune

Afterword, M.S. Swaminathan

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Delightful…the chapters are gems of precision and insight.” (Michael Spence, Nobel Prize Winner in Economics)

“This book so aptly demonstrates [that] the concept of sustainability can be applied to many different areas, which could be woven together into a sustainability agenda.” (Robert Rubin, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations, and Former U.S. Secretary of Treasury)

“Seminal…a thoughtful and refreshingly different book.” (Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum)

“Mahatma Gandhi once said ‘unsustainable lifestyles and unacceptable poverty should become problems of the past, to achieve harmony with nature and with each other.’ Practicing Sustainability not only brings out the relevance of this vision clearly, but also the need to develop better concepts and pathways to achieve that vision.” (M.S. Swaminathan, World Food Prize Laureate and Member of Parliament, India)

“An enlightening book that demystifies what sustainability really means with a fresh, unusual range of voices and practical insights. Practicing Sustainability should be read by anyone who cares about the future of our planet.” (Neal Lane, Former Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the U.S. National Science Foundation.)

“In this unique collection, each reader will find three or four sparks—things that will connect with their head or heart or both, and perhaps spur them to real action. It's a necessary book!” (Bill McKibben, Founder,, and author of The End of Nature, Deep Economy, and Eaarth.)

Practicing Sustainability is an engaging and ultimately uplifting kaleidoscope of ideas from the people on the front lines of building a better planet.” (Greg Ip, author of The Little Book of Economics)

“The popularity of “sustainability” has taken a toll on its meaning—it is too often used as a lofty aspiration or as a vague objective. This book provides a great antidote to this trend. Practicing Sustainability is a must-read for anyone looking for good ideas on how to make sustainability more real and concrete.” (Moise's Naím, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Chief International Columnist, El País; Former Editor-in-Chief, Foreign Policy)

“An important book that contributes greatly to the understanding and practice of sustainability in a comprehensive, lucid, and thoughtful way.” (Shu Chien, National Medal of Science Laureate; University Professor of Bioengineering and Medicine, University of California, San Diego)

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