Just Environmental Sustainability? A Revealing Look at the Architecture of Meaning Beneath Sustainability Discourse

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In 'Just Environmental Sustainability?', I argue that the dominant definitions of sustainability are too vague and neglect essential elements necessary for effective sustainability discourse. To address this, I conduct an interpretive policy analysis as a means of uncovering the values and understandings that motivate commonly accepted definitions of sustainability and the policies they foster. After a consideration of these definitions, I develop a definition that includes within itself five criteria for sustainability. This new definition is called ‘Just Environmental Sustainability’ and embodies all considerations necessary for the facilitation of a truly sustainable society. Then, I perform an interpretive policy analysis focusing on the feelings, values, and beliefs expressed by the policies of a businesses organization promoting sustainability. Because policy promises and implications are hidden and commonly contradictory conclusions are derived from the assumptions of policy makers and those they serve, an interpretive policy analysis is necessary to make salient these perspectives. Though the systematic investigation of policy labels and categories, narratives and metaphors, institutions and programs, the architecture of meaning will be revealed. Upon the conclusion of this project, I re-envisioned sustainability, offering a new conception that can be efficaciously employed.


Keywords: Sustainability, Sustainable Development, Environmental Justice, Corporate Responsibility
Stream: Economic Sustainability
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Andrea Best

Ph.D. Candidate, Public Intellectuals Program, Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, Florida, USA

Andrea Best is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Public Intellectuals Program with a concentration in Environment and Technology at Florida Atlantic University in Boca tRaton, FL. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Miami and her Bachelor of Arts in English from Lynn University. Her article, 'Is Environmental Justice All Dried Up? Drilling for Water in the Everglades Dredges Up Questions Regarding the Potential for Just Environmental Sustainability' was published in The International Journal of Sustainable Development in 2005.

Ref: S08P0118