Essay – identifying a sustainability problem

Goal

Essay #1 should demonstrate your ability to identify a sustainability problem based on the concepts learned in this course. This essay allows you to build your expertise as a future sustainability professional – here, you demonstrate that you know how to differentiate between sustainability problems and other problems.

You need to select a sustainability problem from anywhere around the world. I strongly encourage you to select a case that is relevant to you (you should be highly motivated to work on the problem), as well as important in practical terms; that means, try to link your problem to an ongoing initiative, program, or project! Remember that you will develop a problem-solving strategy over the course of the semester (and present it in Essay #3). In selecting a case that is related to ongoing activities, you can actively contribute to the mitigation or solution of the problem!

Content and Structure

For this essay, you should select a sustainability problem from anywhere around the world, provide basic information about the problem, and elaborate on why it is asustainability problem. Your problem should be focused on a specific location. Ideally, you have already chosen your topic and location in Discussion Post #1. If, for some reason you would like to change, you must get approval from me, your instructor, prior to writing Essay #1.

Your essay should apply the concepts we have covered in this course. Pay close attention to the following criteria as the essay should be structured according to thefollowing four parts each with their own header:

The first part (introduction) is only 1-2 paragraphs: briefly describe the manifestation of the problem and the context of the problem you selected (extent, location,history, etc.). This should include any relevant background information.

The second part of the essay should explain the sustainability features of the problem (why this is a sustainability problem) each with their own header:

  1. Is the problem significantly harmful over the long term – does it threaten collective goods (ecosystems, human wellbeing, livelihoods, justice) that areessential for the long-term viability, vitality, and integrity of the society in question? A problem is significantly harmful when it threatens the majority of the following goods, and all of these should be explicitly discussed:

                  (1) Viability or Integrity of Ecosystems.

                  (2) Human and Social Wellbeing.

                  (3) Equitable Opportunity for Livelihood and Economic Activities.

                  (4) Justice across Societies (Inter-regional Justice).

                  (5) Justice from one Generation to the Next (Inter-generational Justice).

  1. Is the problem urgent? Does it display features of irreversibility in the short-term?
  2. Are there dispersed effects? Do the adverse effects of the problem spread across different sectors and across different spatial levels (from local to global)?
  3. Are there complex causes? Are the underlying causes of the problem manifold and characterized by long and indirect cause-effect chains?
  4. Is the problem contested? Is the problem controversially discussed and even willfully obscured?

The third part of the essay should explain the need for sustainability problem solving by discussing the legitimate stakeholders of the problem:

  1. Does a group of legitimate stakeholders recognize and judge this situation as negative or adverse, in terms of sustainability, on justifiable grounds? Who are these stakeholder?
  2. Is a group of legitimate stakeholders honestly interested in doing something to resolve and mitigate this situation? Who are these stakeholders?

At the end of the essay, the fourth part should describe in one short paragraph who can benefit from your essay series (who will be interested in the results of youranalysis and solution study). It is not sufficient to use general categories such as “the public.” Instead, you need to identify a specific group, organization, association,agency, company, or the like that might be interested in your work!

Important Note: This essay should NOT describe necessary transitions or solutions. It should SOLELY focus on the problem at hand.

The essay must not exceed 5 pages (plus references)!

Formal Aspects

The essay must be written from a professional perspective for a general audience. You are expected to use credible sources to substantiate your ideas (Note: Wikipedia isnot an acceptable source for this purpose), and to fully reference those sources both in the text and reference section of the paper. Each essay should be typed, spell-checked, and no more than five pages long single-spaced, size 12 font. Please refer to the Publication Manual of the American PsychologicalAssociation (APA Manual) as your style guide.

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