Resurfacing Sustainability in AQ


With the publication of our new report, Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism, this seems an appropriate time to resurface some of our early work on the campus sustainability movement. NAS has been writing about the movement since 2007, when we learned of a “sustainability” residence life program at the University of Delaware that strayed away from environmental stewardship and into identity studies.

In 2010, we devoted an entire issue of our journal, Academic Questions, to the topic of sustainability. We reprint here the summaries of each article with links to the complete texts. Several are available for free to all readers. Members have free access to all articles. For assistance in gaining online access, email [email protected] with “AQ access” in the subject line.  If you are not a member of NAS, please join us! We welcome everyone who agrees with our principles. Membership is renewable annually and includes a one-year subscription to Academic Questions in print and online. 

Academic Questions, Spring 2010, Vol. 23 No. 1

The Issue at a Glance 

Earth Worms: The Eco-Corruption of Higher Education
Peter Wood, National Association of Scholars
Editor’s introduction to this issue 

The Roots of Sustainability
Glenn M. Ricketts, National Association of Scholars
In a sweeping history that begins in the 1960s, Prof. Rickets, NAS director of public affairs and tenured historian, investigates how the sustainability movement emerged from the extremes of environmentalism. In considering how these movements diverge, Ricketts points out that what sets “sustainatopians” and environmentalists apart from earlier conservationists is their quasi-mystical claim that “everything is connected to everything else.” 

If the Science Is Solid, Why Stoop? An Environmental Scientist Parses

Stanley W. Trimble, University of California at Berkeley
According to Prof. Trimble—soil scientist, UCLA geography professor, and environmentalist—“Climategate is…the greatest science scandal in my lifetime.” He urges that scientific skepticism is the only responsible academic reaction to current revelations about the research behind “climate change theory.” 

Under the Green Thumb: Totalitarian Sustainability on Campus
Adam Kissel
Mr. Kissel offers a compelling indictment of the totalitarian tendencies within the sustainability movement on campus, whose proponents relentlessly argue that saving the earth outweighs every civil liberty.

Corroding the Curriculum: Sustainability v. Education
Austin Williams, Future Cities Project
In The Enemies of Progress: The Dangers of Sustainability (Societas, 2008), British architect Austin Williams called sustainability “an insidiously dangerous concept at odds with progress.” In his Academic Questions essay Williams examines the sustainability agenda in education in the United Kingdom (with parallel examples from the United States) and reveals that sustainability curricula are propagandistic and motivated by envy, status seeking, and financial gain, particularly among the less distinguished academic institutions. 

Is Sustainability Sustainable?
Daniel Bonevac, University of Texas at Austin

What is “sustainability”? The sustainability movement has smugly produced hundreds of definitions, but can any of them withstand genuine analytical scrutiny? Philosophy professor Daniel Bonevac strives to answer that question and finds that many of the definitions by sustainability advocates rest on impossibilities or appear to be well-argued abstractions lacking substance. He concludes that sustainability is a bucket with no bottom.  

Pluralism Lost: Sustainability’s Unfortunate Fall
Edward T. “Terry” Wimberley, Florida Gulf Coast University

Dr. Wimberley, a professor of ecological studies at Florida Gulf Coast University and supporter of the concept of sustainability, offers an unflinching account of what happened in a very short amount of time when one university carried its commitment to sustainability beyond the bounds of fair-minded intellectual pluralism. 

Art and Delusion: Unreality in Art School
Ross Neher, Pratt Institute
Pratt painting instructor Ross Neher shares an inside look at the contemporary art school and observes that institutional obeisance at the altar of postmodern theory has only worked to widen the gap between an art student’s dreams of success as an artist and the harsh realities of the postgraduation world. 

Bibliotherapy: Literature as Exploration Reconsidered
Stewart Justman, University of Montana, Missoula

Stewart Justman, Liberal Studies Program director at the University of Montana,Missoula, examines Louise Rosenblatt’s Literature as Exploration, a popular textbook used since 1938 (in five successive editions) in high school English classrooms across America. Prof. Justman discusses how the one-time college roommate of Margaret Mead managed to transform teaching literature into a form of student therapy that encourages students to find their own meaning in texts. 

Letters of an Old School New Critic
Robert B. Heilman: His Life in Letters
Edited by Edward Alexander, Richard Dunn, and Paul Jaussen

Reviewed by James A. Grimshaw, Jr. 

Poems by Benjamin A. Plotinsky and David J. Rothman
“Jennifer Cheevy” by Benjamin A. Plotinsky, City Journal
“Three Voices” by David J. Rothman, Conundrum Press

Books, Articles, and Items of Academic Interest
Compiled, with commentary, by Peter Wood


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