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Big History book review

July 3, 2012

As published in the International Big History Association newsletter which can be found in PDF format at ibhanet.org

Big History: Interdisciplinary Conversations Provide Comprehensive Narrative
Denise Scammon, Lewiston, Maine

From Big Bang to Global Civilization: A Big History Anthology portrays reality in its entirety. Each essay contributes to the wide selection of topics arising from a diverse array of sciences and humanities and arts that tell the Big History story. The subject of Big History is similar to a big movie picture show that uses many different characters who interact to form a cohesive story. Imagine that each character in the Big History story represents a discipline, each contributing knowledge that informs and supports research done under the auspices of a different discipline. Interacting with each other in fresh, new ways, the disciplines converse about the origin story, the world as we know it, and our own place in it. The results of these conversations found within the covers of this comprehensive book enable the reader to benefit from a broad, interdisciplinary work in a way that no single discipline can do on its own merits.
Each chapter delivers research conducted and then condensed so as to present an overarching presentation of a vast amount of knowledge. It is a collaboration among creative thinkers and researchers whose combined work describes the history of everything. It’s global: The authors come from all over the world. It’s scalable: The research takes the history of the Universe from the micro level to the macro level. The reader follows the Big History story, beginning with events surrounding the Big Bang, then transforming the Universe into an increasingly complex place. History on a large scale is today’s new narrative for explaining reality.
Big History unifies what we know about the history of the Universe into a contemporaneous, expansive story composed of many sciences, humanities, and arts. Big History began coming together as a field of study in the 1980s. It was a product of the Space Race and the Cold War. Essentially, it seeks to make sense of the discoveries that have been isolated in the many silos of academic departments. As of today, there are about fifty courses on Big History that are taught in universities around the world, as well as many other courses that include aspects of Big History. Their number is growing very fast. Most of these courses are taught in the United States, but other geographic clusters are found in Australia, the Netherlands, Canada and Russia.
Many of the Big History traditions developed independently in various locations around the world. Several authors in the anthology give us insights into some of these “independent inventions,” such as Osamu Nakanishi and Nobuo Tsujimura in Japan, and Sun Yue and Zhu Weibin in China.
There are five major texts about Big History currently in use: David Christian’s Maps of Time (University of California Press 2004), Cynthia Brown’s Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present (The New Press 2007), and Fred Spier’s The Structure of Big History: From the Big Bang until Today (Amsterdam University Press 1996) and Big History & the Future of Humanity (Wiley-Blackwell 2010). Each of these authors has essays in this anthology. There also have been numerous essays published about Big History in a variety of journals and almanacs, in print and online, notably in Social History & Evolution, World History Connected, and Evolution. This anthology is scheduled to be released in 2013.
The inspiration for this volume came out of the Russian collaboration by Universal Historians with Western scholars of Big History and Cosmic Evolution. Several of the authors in this anthology had earlier participated in conferences in Russia and in publications with the journals of the Uchitel Publishing House. While a few authors have had their works previously published, many of the essays have not been published before, and none have been published in an anthology. In fact, a book such as this has never before been published, and, as such, provides a crucial turning point in the field of interdisciplinary education.
This anthology was conceived and edited by Drs. Barry Rodrigue, Leonid Grinin, and Andrey Korotayev. Rodrigue is a professor at the University of Southern Maine and serves as International Coordinator of the International Big History Association (IBHA). Korotayev is Head of the Department of Modern Asia and Africa at the Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow). Grinin is an historian, as well as the founder and director of Uchitel Publishing House, which is devoted to social science publications in Russian and English. They had collaborated earlier in producing the almanac, Evolution: A Big History Perspective (2011). In the present work, their comprehensive narrative is divided into multiple sections, including: “Evolution & Understanding,” “How Big History Works,” “Interdisciplinary Development of Big History,” “Big Culture,” “Little Big History,” “Teaching Big History,” “Visions of the Present & Future,” and “Creativity.”
Kudos should go to the University of California Press for the publication of this anthology which can be useful in many venues, as a textbook, a reference book, as well as for the general public. This distinguished university press “enriches lives around the world by advancing scholarship in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences,” according to its mission statement. Its impressive list of titles includes bestsellers such as The Autobiography of Mark Twain (2010), which Sam Clemens deferred for publication a century after his death. They also published, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History by David Christian, which is the primary Big History textbook in use around the world. President of the International Big History Association (IBHA), Christian is also a co-founder, with Bill Gates, of the Big History Project, which is building a free online syllabus in Big History for high schools around the world. Christian has essays in this anthology, including, his recent paper, “History & Time.”
The preface to the anthology begins with a thoughtful essay written by Roberta Bondar, a physician from Toronto (Canada), who was an astronaut/neurologist aboard the space shuttle, Discovery, in 1992. Her credentials include degrees in zoology, agriculture, experimental pathology, neurobiology, and neuro-ophthalmology. Among her distinctive honors are four photo-essay books that include photos she took of Earth from outer space. In the preface, Bondar describes the emotions she felt when viewing Earth from outer space and how the blackness that surrounds it made the return to Earth all the more sweet. The blackness of outer space brought the realization that as far as present-day science has discovered, there is no other planet like Earth in the Universe. Bondar’s profound insights which arise from her space travel start a conversation about symbolic boundaries, how studying the physical effects of space-living on the human body can benefit humans living on Earth, and how space travel can change our concepts of the world. She writes, “Lifted above planet Earth by whatever physical mechanism to float in space, we are gifted with an opportunity to float out of ourselves to see what has become of us.” Bondar asserts that we will learn more about our world and Big History by asking big questions and seeking answers from interdisciplinary sources.
The reader will find that the section on “Evolution & Understanding” presents an introductory overview of Big History that explores scholarship and education and how improvements can further interdisciplinary teaching and learning. G. Siegfried Kutter, a retired NASA astrophysicist and presently a professor at Colorado Mountain College, in Breckenridge, Colorado, authored “A Brief Account of the Science of Big History,” which summarizes contemporaneous understanding of the history of the Universe. This essay, written in a non-technical style, is a good place to start when introducing a comprehensive Big History story that begins with the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago followed by the formation of structure in the Universe. The narrative explores the roles of the different characters in the story of the Universe, including the formation and composition of stars, galaxies, and our solar system. Progressing from the small scale to the large scale, the reader follows the story as the world becomes increasingly complex with the appearance of life on Earth and the development of human life forms. Expertly, Dr. Kutter weaves in the development of agriculture in the distant past, through living arrangements, writing and communication, science and industrialization, to today’s global economy. This essay will certainly arouse greater interest in the facts surrounding Big History and new developments in the field.
Antonio Veléz Montoya, of Medellin, Colombia, writes in his essay, “Mathematical Modeling, the Big Achievement,” that using mathematical modeling to represent the real world with abstract symbols allows scientists to miniaturize the scale of the world. Abstract mathematical symbols represent the decreased scale, taking something unimaginably large and turning it into a more easily comprehended and more manageable scale. This is reminiscent of movies that make use of wide and telephoto lenses. The wide lens shows more of the world, but things appear smaller. The telephoto lens gets up close to objects which make them appear larger, but less of the world can be seen through the telephoto lens. But the size of the world and objects in it do not change, just the tools used to view it. Both views are necessary to provide a comprehensive understanding of nature and its rules; therefore, mathematical modeling has become one of the tools used by researchers to overcome limits to discovery in the field of Big History.
Authors Walter Alvarez and David Shimabukuro of the University of California at Berkley, and Alessandro Montanari of the Coldigioco Geological Observatory in Italy, explain in the essay, “Ex Libro Lapidum Historia Mundi: Reading History Written in Rocks,” that sharing of knowledge among historians, astronomers, geologists, and paleontologists enables a more thorough understanding of history which can be discovered in the Earth’s rocks. The authors note that this interaction among disciplines provides details about the evolution of microfossils, reversals in the Earth’s magnetic field, and the giant impact that caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. This essay provides an exciting narrative about Big History that is accessible to everyone.
Lowell Gustafson describes how “Big Politics” serves as a conceptualization of social interaction on a scale that spans nature and the universe. This concept can be seen as a sub-field of Political Science, one that greatly extends traditional sub-fields, such as International Politics or Political Theory. Like these sub-fields, it presents a scientific narrative explaining the development of polity over time and within defined locations. Polity, or the sustained, ordered relations among members of a society, requires an analysis that is based in the natural sciences as well as mathematics. This analysis presents an account of the development of polity or the increasing complexity of relations between members, with simpler units forming new combinations with new properties. It claims that human polity is a complex development that evolves from earlier polities, rooting human political nature within a broader conception of nature.
An essay written by Ji-Hyung Cho, of Ewha Woman’s University, in Seoul, Korea, titled, “The Little Ice Age & the Coming of the Anthropocene,” examines the coldest period in the history of humanity in the last 10,000 years and the agents that caused it, which include solar variability, volcanic activity, human activity, sulfate aerosols, and greenhouse gas. Cho explains the human response to the LIA: “Responding to the LIA … the human species began to exploit the nonrenewable resources of the Earth as never before. The human response to the LIA remains in the Earth’s ecosystems. We can see the beginnings of the Anthropocene at the height of the Little Ice Age.” Both narrative and empirical data have a place in this textbook. His essay is complete with statistics and charts that enable one to see the big picture. Science fiction writers cannot make up stuff as exciting as Cho’s research.
The anthology includes creative works, too, such as a poetic narrative, “The Penultimate Why,” by Brijesh Singh, a member of the Indian Police Service in Mumbai. Singh balances his work as a police officer with poetry and philosophy. In his piece, he examines how asking questions about the world around us leads to a search for answers which provide knowledge but also reveal that we will always be seeking answers because our questions will never cease. We will always be knowledge seekers. We will always ask questions. In this brief work, Singh advises that because of the interconnectedness of everything in our Universe, the sciences, humanities and arts – conversing together – provide a comprehensive answer. Yet the answers we get today may change with new discoveries tomorrow.
The reader will be fascinated with another creative look at Big History as found in the essay, “Brain Stretching: Art & Big History,” by Paula Metallo, of the Coldigioco Geological Observatory in Coldigioco, Italy. Metallo writes, “To me, the most fascinating aspect of modern culture and Big History is the awareness of interconnectedness, the weaving of everything together on our planet and beyond, providing a new place to contemplate.” She then outlines the reasons why she believes art helps reveal patterns and how those patterns enable us to stretch our brains to see things with new understanding. She discusses how the world has become smaller through technology, ubiquitous communication tools, and ease in travel, but at the same time, she acknowledges that people want to connect while retaining distinct cultures and individual identities. She also examines the richness that comes to the human spirit through art, noting that art is subjective. Her logic provides a new, wider context for Big History.
A link between music and Big History is examined in an essay by Alessandro Montanari and Gabrielle Rossetti, also of the Coldigioco Geological Observatory, that is titled, “Dances with the Earth: Geophonic Music.” Dr. Montanari and Mr. Rossetti write about geophonics – the sounds of the Earth – from which they have composed music. They describe the manner in which numerical geological data is turned into music through “Frankenstein,” (German for “true rock”), an original computer program. The creative connection between geology and Earth’s history and music reveals yet another interdisciplinary conversation that takes place in the Big History show.
Another essay was written by Craig Benjamin, of Grand Valley State University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is titled “The Big History of Jericho.” Dr. Benjamin examines the roles of the physical environment, technology, and human interaction and the rise of early agrarian civilizations through the story of the origins and history of Jericho, the oldest known city on Earth. How did Jericho come to be the oldest city? The story of Jericho’s 14,000-year survival includes conversations between geography, biology, and human history. The reader will be fascinated by the logic that ties the different disciplines together in this essay.
Douglas Northrop and Cameron Gibelyou, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor wrote, “Webs of Knowledge: Crossing Disciplines to Teach the Universe,” which gives practical examples of how the vast subject of Big History can be taught. Through examples of coursework, the authors provide a foundation for putting together an interdisciplinary Big History course that involves guest lecturers and students teaching others what they have learned about the subject. The authors write, “Although it is admittedly complex (logistically and intellectually) to build a course that relies on so many guest lecturers, it can succeed with careful attention to creating a spine of readings, assignments, discussion sections, and linking lectures for students.” This is interdisciplinary education at its finest. Other authors in this section include Dutch educator Jos Werkhoven, who discusses the Big History tradition in the Montessori School tradition, and Erika Gronek, who wrote a renowned children’s story of existence – “And then there was you…!”
Some of the authors in this anthology promote the study of Big History through The Eurasian Center of Big History & System Forecasting at the Russian Academy of the Sciences. These authors include Akop Nazaretyan, who wrote “Mega-Evolution & Big History,” which compares Russian and Western traditions of Big History. Two of the editors, Leonid Grinin and Andrey Korotayev, teamed up with Robert Carneiro of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and Fred Spier of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands to write, “Evolutionary Megaparadigm: Potential, Problems, Perspectives.” Their essays provide insight into education, advocacy, and theories related to Big History.
Appropriately, the last section focuses on our future. A series of exciting and thoughtful essays lay out aspects of our potential and our prospects. Renowned science-fiction author (and computer scientist) Vernor Vinge addresses the Singularity, a term he first adapted from physics to society. Frank Niele, an engineer with Royal Dutch Shell investigates our energy future by using an exciting new paradigm. And Russian nuclear physicist Alexander Panov and Australian future studies scholar Joseph Voros look to galactic civilizations.
In addition to essays, poetry, and other traditions, each section is started by a “Pathway to Big History,” which describes how a big historian arrived at their way of thinking about universal matters. These personal vignettes provide warm and intimate views of a new field’s development. For example, Katya Sazhienko, a student at the International University of Humanity & Nature in Dubna, Russia describes her move from a small coal mining city in the Urals and how the universal humanism of Russian literature inspired her to seek more from life, and then how a course with her professor, Akop Nazaretyan, set her on a Big History pathway.
Taken in its entirety, From Big Bang to Global Civilization: A Big History Anthology has the potential to bring the reader face-to-face with new connections and ideas about the Universe realized through the interaction of the diverse sciences, humanities and arts. The essays in this anthology demonstrate the importance of knowing about time-space, quantum physics, gravity and the elements to further understand cause and effect between humans in the agrarian, industrial and modern eras. This knowledge gives us clues as to how we can replenish our living planet. Upon learning about a new discovery that will affect our universe and/or the human race, it is our responsibility to take a critical look at scholarly resources for more information. This anthology provides the research which can lead to creative solutions such as those that sometimes come about from using technology for purposes other than the original intention. The creative, forward-thinking people, who have shared their knowledge and thoughts about issues relevant to Big History, provide a firm foundation for the stewardship of our planet and humanity. This anthology will advance our progress.

Prior learning assessment portfolio

May 12, 2012

Recently, I compiled the necessary documentation and wrote the necessary essays required for my Prior Learning Assessment Portfolio. My goal was to earn 11 credits from my portfolio in order to graduate with a B.A. in the Arts & Humanities. I am sharing my portfolio here as an example from which others in this same situation may be motivated to prepare their own portfolios. I have deleted some personal identifying information. Also, the title page looked like an actual title page, but here I have deleted the blank lines so as to consolidate the portfolio for this web presentation. Additionally, the Personal Statement and the Learning Outcome sections were double spaced and had identifying headers on each page with abbreviated title, my name, and page number. The Works Cited was set up with hanging indents as was the Annotated Bibliography. Please feel free to leave me a comment if you have questions about writing your own Prior Learning portfolio.

TITLE PAGE:

Communication is What Matters at the End of the Day

 Name

Street Address

City, State, Zip

Date of Submission: May 3, 2012

Home phone:

Cell phone:

Email:

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Table of Contents

1.) Letter of Intent

2.) Resume

3.) Unofficial Transcript

4.) Personal Statement

5.) Competencies and Learning Outcomes

6.) Documentation

7.) Annotated Bibliography

LETTER OF INTENT:

May 3, 2012

Greetings,

With this portfolio, I intend to prove my learning outcomes in communication and cross-media. Communication is one of my strengths. I work with cross-media as I have been editing and writing for newspapers since 1999 and the industry has changed considerably in that period of time, going from a paper product to paper and digital products. I am currently a full-time special sections editor at a newspaper. I intend to demonstrate in this portfolio my areas of expertise which are communication skills and cross-media production: speaking effectively and articulately, writing clearly and concisely, and listening with thoughtful objectivity. Through life experiences, I have learned critical thinking skills such as analyzing problems, ideas, and situations; theorizing and reflecting; and making decisions that end uncertainty. I find that people like it when someone has the answers.

In my job as an editor, I have networked and interacted with peers, supervisors, and subordinates. I enjoy being a team player and I encourage and appreciate the contribution of others. At the same time, I can lead and effectively oversee and direct people. When the budget at work allowed for additional help, I hired and managed part-time special sections paginators. I often take the role of leader in team projects, motivate, inspire, and delegate tasks that need to be done so as to meet deadlines.

As an interest outside of my work, I became involved as a historian for a nonprofit women’s club. I organized the historical documents the club had archived since 1892 and discovered many historically significant civic accomplishments of the group that have largely been forgotten. I wrote a grant for CLUB, which was awarded through the State Archives, to fund a professional conservationist to preserve the club’s archives. I put together three public presentations on the history of the club and created a Facebook page to create public awareness about the civic engagement of the club’s members. I include this information here because I had to persuade the members who are computer illiterate that the use of Internet-based social media allows for a presence and audience interaction not possible through old media.

For several years I have worked part-time in the marketing office at the college I attend. I was hired as a journalist to interview and write profiles about the full-time faculty, and students at the college. Many of these profiles have been published in a local magazine and some in the local newspaper.

In my marketing, editing, and historian roles, I organize facts, concepts, and principles for print and digital versions of information products. My e-knowledge is deep. I have built my own drupal-based website at denisescammon.com. I built that website just so that I could better understand the drupal-based Content Management System we use at the newspaper. All of my online courses have required above-average knowledge of computer applications such as BlackBoard, Skype, making podcasts, PowerPoints, slideshows, and online test taking.

My reason for submitting this portfolio is to request 11 credits for learning outside the college classroom. Reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of learning that has occurred outside of school, I have examined my skills in public relations, graphics and design, marketing, advertising, and social networking, as they pertain to communication and cross-media. This reflection and compiling information for my portfolio has been a learning process in and of itself.

Sincerely,

NAME

RESUME SECTION:

Name

Address

Telephone: XXXXXXXXXX Cell: XXXXXXX

Email:

Area of Expertise: Cross-Media Communication

  • Project Management: Responsible for production of 800+ newspaper supplements; verifying and coordinating information with other departments, co-workers, freelancers, and advertisers.
  • Editing/Writing/Designing: Edited 7,200+ news and feature articles; written 100+ published news and feature articles. Design skills include graphic/ typography/ photography design with popular software such as PhotoShop, Illustrator, InDesign, QuarkXpress, and OpenOffice. http://npd.snd.org/profile/SpecialDee
  • Active Listening/Social Media: In-person interviews of people of all ages/backgrounds for news, feature stories, and more. Social media including Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to communicate with colleagues, freelancers, advertisers, and interviewees. http://twitter.com/specialdee
  • Critical Thinking: Look for ambiguity, identify strengths/weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches. https://specialdee.wordpress.com/
  • Judgment and Decision Making: Consider relative costs and benefits of potential actions. Created Freelance Agreement. Curate editorial content based on research and benefit to both advertisers and readers.
  • Active Learning/Training: Understand implications of new information for both current and future problem solving and decision making. Create work flow charts to demonstrate what works and what could be improved. Create training documents for co-workers and customers, such as an explanation of resolution and dpi in graphics. Use online tools such as Google Docs, Google Reader, PowerPoint presentations and learn new tools as needed for better work flow and organization.
  • Monitoring: Assess performance of self, other individuals, and organizations to make improvements or take corrective action. Pro-active in all aspects of work, anticipate trends to plan editorial content, making sure other departments have the same deadlines.

Professional Experience

  • Title, Name of Employer, current
  • Student Journalist, xxxxxx College, current
  • Freelance Writer / Photographer
  • Office Manager, Name of Employer

Education

  • College Name, Arts & Humanities, 4.0 GPA, awards include Distinguished Student 2012, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, USM Golden Key International Honour Society, Dean’s List each year

Community Service

  • Working with nonprofit group to preserve and digitize collection of historical documents; wrote, and was awarded, a grant for the group to hire professional conservationist; bringing the group up-to-date on social media used for civic engagement; creating educational packets from collection material; making collection available to researchers
  • Marketing Director at Name of Computer Club, Volunteer
  • Name of Little League, Volunteer
  • CityName Public Schools, Volunteer; taught computer skills; fund raising; photographer/ graphics

UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT SECTION (get this from Student Success Center)

PERSONAL STATEMENT:

Personal Statement

The life experiences that have shaped my views on communication and cross-media include my work in the newspaper industry since 1999. I have been editing and writing for newspapers since that time. I am currently a full-time special sections editor at EMPLOYER. Also, I have worked part-time since 2009 in the Marketing department at NAME of College. I am in my second year of filling the volunteer position of Historian at a nonprofit women’s club, NAME.

My prior learning and experience support the theoretical frameworks and paradigms of communication and new media. In this portfolio, I reflect on my achievement of learning outcomes for those subjects. My prior learning is shown through real-life examples that highlight how I have applied my college-level learning. The writing of this portfolio is one example of my college-level writing skills. I have included examples of my problem-solving skills that show the depth of the knowledge I have gained and put to use in theoretical and practical applications.

JUDGMENT AND DECISION MAKING: As managing editor of Special Sections, which is a function of the Advertising department, I produce newspaper supplements that have themes. The editorial content for the supplements comes from many sources which funnel through me. Supplements are also known as tabloids and in the newspaper industry they are simply called tabs. Some tabs, such as the Balloon Festival tab, are almost entirely filled with editorial content and photos supplied by the organization’s committee. One-time supplements – usually a business or organization celebrating an anniversary, open house, grand opening, or renovation – contain editorial content supplied by that advertiser. Sometimes an independent contractor (freelancer) is needed to provide the editorial content, in which case I hire a freelance writer/ photographer/ videographer to work with the advertiser.

ACTIVE LEARNING/TRAINING NEW MEDIA: As Special Sections editor, I use the services of independent contractors to produce some of the editorial content for the supplements, and so I have had to learn about the freelancer copyright laws. The newspaper purchases first-time publication rights from the freelancer and permission for publication in any and all of its newspaper/ online products. Advertisers and others who wish to use the freelancer-produced editorial content in products not affiliated with the newspaper – content for which the newspaper has paid the freelancer – must contact the freelancer directly for that permission and possible payment to the freelancer. That is because the newspaper has paid for the use of that editorial content in its newspaper/online products only. The newspaper is not paying the freelancer to provide marketing materials for the advertiser. Knowing the law about using the work of independent contractors is an important part of my job which I share with advertisers and my co-workers.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT: My work is detail-oriented. I maintain lists of independent contractors, assignments, and payments. I submit invoices to NAME of Advertising & Marketing, as well as the Payroll department. I have kept track of freelancer payments from 1996 and analyze trends in the growth/shrinkage of my budget. For themed supplements such as Weddings, Women, Health, Family, and others, after discussion with the editorial team, I decide what topics to assign to the freelancers. The budget allows for at least two or more freelancer-produced articles per supplement. The topics are based on the theme of the supplement, to be sure, but also taken into consideration are the advertisers of those supplements. For example, if family counselors usually advertise in the Family supplement, a freelancer could be assigned to write on a topic such as teen depression, including quotes in the article from at least three sources. Advertisers are allowed to submit topical articles that adhere to Special Sections guidelines. The editorial content is meant to be interesting and useful for our readers. The inclusion of quotes from local experts gives the articles a local flavor and more believability. The number of pages in a supplement is determined by the number of ad inches sold.

EDITING/WRITING/DESIGNING: At the newspaper, I edit stories for grammar, spelling, and to make sure the guidelines in the AP Stylebook are followed as closely as possible. Also, I format photos in PhotoShop, adjusting for the best print and web versions. Text, photos, and videos need to be entered in the Content Management System. When a supplement is designed for the print version, I become a paginator, which means page designer. Pages are designed following the Special Sections Design Standards. Adjustments are made as needed. I notify the advertising department design manager of missing or problematic ads. I also check the print schedule to make sure that the supplement is scheduled to be printed by the press room and that the day it is being printed is at least one day after I plan on sending the pages to the PrePress department. A copy of the supplement is printed on the copier machine so that the Advertising department can proofread it before it goes to the printing press. Every extra set of eyeballs help catch mistakes.

ADAPTABILITY IN NEW MEDIA: When the supplement has been okayed, I export the pages to a folder that prepares the pages for the plate-making process. I must view each page digitally and check that everything on the digital version of the page looks as it does on the print version. When each page is approved, my job is finished. The next step in the workflow is PrePress, the department that makes the plates which will be sent to the press room. When I first started working at the newspaper, at this point in the workflow I used to send the pages to the film machine which made negatives that were used to make the plates for the press. Now everything is done digitally. I send an email to Advertising informing them that the pages have been sent to CTP so that they don’t make any more changes to ads in the tab because it will be too late once the plates are made and/or the supplement is printed. I also create digital versions of the tabs and upload them online.

MONITORING PERFORMANCE: In my job as an editor, I have networked and interacted with peers, supervisors, and subordinates. I enjoy being a team player and I encourage and appreciate the contribution of others. At the same time, I can lead and effectively oversee and direct people. When the budget at work allowed for additional help, I hired and managed part-time special sections paginators. I often take the role of leader in team projects, motivate, inspire, and delegate tasks that need to be done so as to meet deadlines.

ACTIVE LISTENING: In my journalist job at COLLEGE, I interview and write profiles about the full-time faculty, and students, at COLLEGE. Many of these profiles have been published in NAME of Magazine and some in the local newspaper. The interviews were always taped and then a rough draft would be typed up from the tape and my notes. I would then submit a good draft of the profile to the person interviewed for feedback and to catch potential errors. I have found that people reveal more in an interview than they realize and since these profiles are not “breaking news,” getting approval from the one being profiled is a big plus.

RESEARCH/SHARING: As an interest outside of my work in the newspaper industry, I became involved as a historian for the nonprofit WOMEN’S CLUB NAME. As volunteer historian, I learned how to archive, preserve, and digitize historical documents and photographs which reach back to the founding of the organization. I organized the historical documents the CLUB had archived since 1892 and discovered many historically significant civic accomplishments of the group that have largely been forgotten. I wrote a grant for CLUB, which was awarded through the State Archives, to fund a professional conservationist to preserve CLUB’s archives. I continuously research grants that might fund restoration projects of the organization’s historical club house. I put together three public presentations on the history of the CLUB and created a Facebook page to create public awareness about the civic engagement of the club’s members. I maintain the club’s social media tools that are used to reach out to members and the public. I appreciate the social and cultural context of historical events more now that I have seen the important information in the club’s documents and see patterns that repeat themselves throughout history, such as the return of efforts to clean up along the river by local groups, which is something the club did back in the early 1950s.

In my marketing, editing, writing, and historian roles, I organize facts, concepts, and principles for print and digital versions of information products. My e-knowledge is deep. I have built my own drupal-based website at denisescammon.com. I built that website just so that I could better understand the drupal-based Content Management System we use at the newspaper. All of my online courses have required above-average knowledge of computer applications such as BlackBoard, Skype, making podcasts, PowerPoints, slideshows, and online test taking.

COMPETENCIES AND LEARNING OUTCOMES SECTION:

Competencies and Learning Outcomes

Communication comes in many forms and in a variety of contexts, including intrapersonal, organizational, intercultural, and mass communication. The actual application of theories presented in this paper reveals what I have learned outside the classroom. As the Special Sections editor for over 10 years at a major newspaper in central Maine, I have become accustomed to taking a broad view of, and a close look at, communication and cross-media. Over the years, my views about communication have evolved as I have examined it in many contexts: news in print, online, text messages, videos, and delivery through social networks and augmented reality. A big component of emerging research is cross-media communication, which is an umbrella over communication and how the different types of media used to communicate interact particularly with an audience. In his book, Communication Theory: Media, Technology and Society, (2005), David Holmes explains the way communication has been changed by new technologies:

It was in the final decade of the twentieth century that the emergence of global interactive technologies, exemplified by the Internet, in the everyday sphere of advanced capitalist nations dramatically transformed the nature and scope of communication mediums. These transformations heralded the declaration of a ‘second media age’, which is seen as a departure from the dominance of broadcast forms of media such as newspapers, radio and television (4).

The Internet provides a new venue for communication. For example, 10 years ago, online bloggers, sometimes called citizen journalists, were not using the Internet as widely as they are today. Many online bloggers now regularly disseminate opinion-based “news” as if it is journalism which has created global debates on what constitutes journalism and where bloggers fit in. I have followed the journalism versus blogging debate with much interest and have examined different approaches to understand the larger context of the debate and how it has affected the newspaper industry.

In “Mass Communication Theory: Foundations, Ferment, and Future,” (2012), communication theorists Stanley J. Baran and Dennis K. Davis, explain the debate: “The question facing blogs and their social responsibility … is really no longer whether they practice journalism. It is whether or not they can remain independent of the pressures that seem to limit more traditional outlets” (126). This quote from Baran and Davis reveals the complexity of the situation and this complexity is one of the reasons that I read a lot about what is going on in the news industry. Communication theorists, Stephen W. Littlejohn and Karen A. Foss, (2008), add this note, “Knowledge in the electronic age changes rapidly, and we become aware of different versions of truth. The constant change created by electronic media can make us feel confused and perhaps unsettled. … [and] creates a culture of … groups pitted against one another to promote their special interests” (291). In addition to online blogs, Wikipedia is an example of an online source of information that is typically based on journalistically uncredentialed input. In my opinion, the validity of news is only as good as its source.

Computers, mobile devices, and the Internet are common tools of communicating to the masses. I have explored the effect of mass media, and from Herman and Chomsky, co-authors of Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, comes this quote about how messages are communicated:

The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, inform and inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs and codes of behaviour that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfil this role requires systematic propaganda (1).

Special Sections is part of the Advertising department of the newspaper where I work and so I am very familiar with U.S. commercial culture from historical and theoretical perspectives that privilege media and advertising/marketing, including yellow journalism. In making decisions about what editorial content to include in the newspaper supplements I produce, I acknowledge consumer culture and how identity, the environment and economy, are impacted and shaped by it. I choose editorial content based on research and the benefit to both advertisers and readers.

With the explosion of digital technology that has affected the industry I work in, I have examined the relationship between media, technology, and society from different perspectives. I understand the frameworks and theories that explain technological change and the fundamental relationship between humankind and technology. In McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory, (2010), Denis McQuail notes,

The wish to communicate does not stem only from political or economic necessity. People have always displayed an urge to combine, share and co-operate for personal and social ends that cannot be explained in material terms. This urge finds expression in the wish to share the pleasures and sorrows of life, to embody them in rituals and narratives of family, community, tribe or nation (544).

I know the importance of lifelong learning, but more thrilling to me is that I have discovered that I love to learn. I understand the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making. I create flow charts to demonstrate what tasks work effectively and what tasks could be improved. I create training documents for co-workers and customers, such as an explanation of resolution and dpi in graphics. I use a diverse array of online tools such as Google Docs, Google Reader, PowerPoint presentations and have learned to adapt to new technology as it emerges. I know that not all technology will be long lasting or useful, but I am willing to explore it. I have participated in many phases of news production and design including multimedia production, photography, and page design.

***Here I have deleted information*** I have examined methods of inquiry found in communication and media-studies research literature. These methods include experimental design, survey research, textural analysis, and ethnography. In examining these methodologies, I look at both strengths and limitations with a critical eye toward the origination of the research and whether it was peer-reviewed. ***Deleted***

When adapting to new technology, I identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems. For example, if a computer system fails, I find alternatives to keep the work flow moving. I use the computer as a tool of communication every day and so it is important for me to have a thorough understanding of where items are found on the company’s intranet; sometimes links are broken and paths must be retraced. A few years ago, the company I work at experienced a computer virus that had our IT department isolating computers one by one in order to find the culprit. This process took several months to complete. Many computers were found to be infected and those users were given new hard drives. Paths to links were broken repeatedly in the rebuilding process and requests for help from IT to find those paths were followed by long waits. From years of using computers, having purchased my first computer in 1984, I am familiar with how computers are set up and I was able to help my co-workers find paths to broken links, too.

At home, I use Apple computers, while at work the computers are Windows-based PCs and so I have learned to adapt to new computer situations. Since I frequently work with deadlines, I have learned the importance of being proactive when upcoming changes to the company’s intranet are announced. I like working on computers so much that for several years I was the marketing director and webmaster of the ***Computer*** Group which is presently in hibernation. I have worked with html code and created websites. About two years ago I purchased the domain name: denisescammon.com and about a year later I taught myself how to use drupal code to create the site as it looks today. Coders have a culture of their own and some inside jokes. One of my favorite geeky phrases is on a baby’s t-shirt: “I TCP/IP but mostly IP.”

I have worked part-time for the last two years in the Marketing office at ***NAME*** College. This position has provided opportunities for me to interview faculty and write profile-type articles about them. About 14 of these profiles have been written, and about seven of them have been published, several in the local newspaper’s college-themed section, and several in the local publication, ***Local*** Magazine. In An Integrated Approach To Communication Theory and Research, (2009), Stacks and Salwen, state, “Interviews likely should be combined with observations to understand cultural perspectives, and doing that is a good way of combining the strengths of social science and of ethnography” (306). In researching and writing for a variety of different publications, I practice different writing styles. My journalistic form is concise and accessible to a ninth-grade reading level. The magazine prefers a creative nonfiction-styled writing. I have conducted interviews with people of all ages/backgrounds for news and feature stories. I use social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to communicate with colleagues, freelancers, advertisers, and interviewees. I have learned to appreciate the liberal ideals of public engagement and discourse in the diverse sources of news publications. The newspaper’s audience and the magazine’s audience have different demographics and expectations. Furthermore, the print audience and the online audience have different demographics. The newspaper just recently conducted a survey to update its audience statistics. These statistics are valuable information for making decisions about editorial content for my special sections.

My professional writing skills include techniques and strategies used in media writing for both the print and online versions of the special sections products I create. I use my media writing skills to communicate information, create media content, and construct meaning. In addition to media writing, I select specific articles for publication, thus becoming a curator of news. I have come to an understanding of how news media coverage affects social change. I have examined historical aspects of news publishing and electronic media. I have seen firsthand how and why the media cover social movements the way they do. I pay attention to news coverage of the civil rights, black power, antiwar, women’s and men’s movements and note the presence of ambiguities, prejudice, and bias.

I also make note of how quoted materials are cited since in my academic writing I use either APA or MLA formatting, but at work I use AP formatting. The AP Stylebook is my bible at my newspaper job. The difference in journalistic writing and academic writing is great. In the AP Style of writing, the most important information comes in the first few paragraphs and a specified paragraph is determined to be where the article can be edited for length without losing the important context of the article. In academic writing, MLA and APA styles promote essay and research paper outlines that begin with an introduction that includes a thesis statement and end with a conclusion that summarizes the middle paragraphs of supporting information. In journalistic writing, paragraphs are broken up into sentences to fit the space available on a page. Words such as “that” and “which” are often edited out, again to fit space. When I switch from journalistic to academic writing, I am aware of the differences in the way I write, word selection, and the power of language to convey messages.

I have learned essential communication skills that have benefitted my business and professional work. My interpersonal, group, and public communication skills include listening actively, giving and receiving constructive feedback, interviewing others, leading groups, negotiating, and making effective public presentations. My skills have improved each year as I review the methods I use to send, receive, and store information. At one time, I thought my communication skills were improving mainly because of achieving maturity, but I have come to realize that my communication skills have improved due to the direct application of trying different methods of communicating. I have made sense out of my experiences and learned what type of communication works and what does not work in specific situations. I have formulated organizational behavior theories through observation. ***Deleted examples*** In Explaining Communication: Contemporary Theories and Exemplars, (2009), Wendy Samter explains the importance of studying aggressive communication will help us to “understand the ways in which individuals’ behavior in dealing with controversial issues impacts their relationships with others” (157). I try to be cognizant of the messages I am communicating ***deleted***.

Workplace communication can be tricky. I find that some people depend on shortcuts rather than knowing the steps required to complete a process. For example, some people depend on others to show them how to perform a task which they should know how to do themselves. Rather than write down the necessary steps the first time they are shown the task, they continue to ask for help each time they need to perform the task. I have learned to identify this lack of responsibility for one’s job performance and use a simple solution by way of suggesting to anyone who is learning a new task that note taking is a valuable, time-saving skill. I have taken it upon myself to create work flow charts, folder paths, and style notebooks to combat this problem. I refer those who should know how to perform a task to these guides. This has become a learning experience on my part as I constructed the guides with images and the correct terminology so that anyone can follow the instructions. In examining the best way to work as an effective team, I rely on methodologies of intrapersonal communication that allow all members of the team to feel comfortable in expressing opinions. Compromise becomes part of final decisions and an effective method in interpersonal communication that fosters teamwork. I have become familiar with techniques associated with group behavior that include leadership, conflict resolution, group climate, and decision making.

I have learned that while I have the ability to lead, at times I have to sit back and give others an opportunity to lead. In both situations, whether I am the leader or participant, I put my best effort into the project. For years I worked alone without the benefit of an editorial team and so I have had the freedom to take initiatives and work independently in making decisions about what stories get published. Since 2002, my project management skills have continued to evolve as I have overseen the successful production of 800+ newspaper supplements without missing a deadline. This includes verifying and coordinating information with other departments, co-workers, freelancers, and advertisers to meet deadlines. ***deleted example*** My editing/writing/design skills include the editing of 7,200+ news and feature articles and the writing of 100+ published news and feature articles. My design skills accumulated from designing over 800 newspaper supplements and include graphic/ typography/ photography design with popular programs such as PhotoShop, Illustrator, InDesign, QuarkXpress, and OpenOffice. I have been part of the team that created the Special Sections Design Standards manual. I have also selected winning designs for newspaper contests.

I assess my own performance and that of other individuals and organizations to make improvements or take corrective action. I am aware of the need to be proactive in all aspects of my job and so I look for and anticipate trends that help me plan editorial content. I also make sure other departments know a project’s deadlines for the best possible project finish. When I hire freelance writers and photographers, I describe their writing assignments in detail. Sometimes a writer will contact me with a writing assignment of their own and try to persuade me to approve it. I have had this happen often enough over the years to have analyzed persuasion as a behavioral process. In these instances, I examine the attempts by the writers to persuade me, and then I carefully craft a communication that either accepts or refutes their suggested assignment. In my response, I often explain the reasoning behind my denial, keeping in mind the ethics involved in persuasion. There is not such a need for explaining an approval as there is a denial. Sometimes my reasons include the assignment already having been assigned, a similar article was recently published, or my budget for the month has already been spent and cannot cover the freelance fee for another assignment.

I generate story ideas for freelance-written articles that are targeted for publication in specific markets. I envision the strengths and weaknesses, and fields of interest, of the dozen freelance writers I hire and select the writer I think is best suited to the topic of the feature. I provide helpful writing suggestions to the freelancers in order to help them develop a writing style suited to Special Sections publications. The freelance writers have built portfolios of their published work. Some freelance assignments are photography and/or video projects. I apply my understanding of visual aspects of reality as mediated through a camera lens to these projects whether assigned or a project I am doing myself. These applications include my understanding of the techniques of lighting, camera angles, perspective, shot distance, editing, and montage. In my early days as an editor, I used a 35 mm camera to take photos, but shortly after starting my career as an editor, I purchased a digital camera. Regardless of which type of camera I use to take photos for publication, discussions about visual language and persuasive strategies occur with my co-workers, particularly the staff photographers. A working knowledge of photographic techniques has enabled me to produce photos that illustrate an article’s subject. Several times I have even been on the other side of the lens when my co-workers needed a model for illustration purposes, too.

As part of my volunteer work as historian for a nonprofit women’s literary club, I have given public presentations about the club’s history as well as the history and architecture of its clubhouse. These presentations included my photography in a PowerPoint presentation of the findings of my research. I have learned to be cognizant of my verbal behavior and pay special attention to the ways in which words and actions take on meaning in context. For example, in my presentation, I was describing a flying staircase and stated that the stair posts were made of three different designs. But, I did not say “stair posts.” I referred to the posts as “newell posts” and was promptly corrected by a member of the audience. It is that type of attention to language that makes me realize the immense undertaking of understanding the specificity of words and their meanings. I examine my speeches for manipulation in which I might take things out of context in order to persuade. I try to envision how other people will interpret what I say. I do a close reading of my speeches and try to ascertain that bias and prejudice have not gotten past my filter. But, I am also aware that my filter is subjective and thus having another set of eyes or a whole team to improve my work is very important to me.

In conclusion, I have analyzed the components of my learning experiences outside of the classroom. I have distinguished between crucial and trivial information, using examples that show how what I have learned from detail-oriented tasks in a deadline-driven work environment. I have been successful in life because I am adaptable: I associate new information with stored facts and integrate information from many sources to solve problems. What I learn in one situation helps me in another because I gain a new awareness with each new experience. I project an attitude of success gained through learning from both my studies and life experiences.

I have improved my editorial and writing skills, built an accomplished portfolio, and examined the practical and philosophical challenges of editing and writing professionally. I see patterns that help me think critically in my work as an editor by studying human culture and society in order to determine what types of stories will generate reader interest and advertiser dollars. I have to be able to recognize quality writing when I see it and explain my reasons for including that writing in the supplements I produce. While the Arts & Humanities program has provided a background in adapting book-smart knowledge to real world settings, the learning that has occurred outside of the classroom has enabled an evolution in my understanding of theories that I did not learn from textbooks.

I have given public speeches/presentations and learned to speak slowly and, when appropriate, ask questions of the audience in the early part of my speech to get them involved in a learning process which is the goal of my presentation. As I present historical facts and discoveries, I believe the slow delivery gives my audience time to absorb the information I am sharing with them. Speaking slowly does many wonderful things for myself as the presenter and for the audience, in my experiences. It slows down my heartbeat from the initial stage fright I feel at the start of my presentation. It also gives me better control over my speech so that important elements are not forgotten. I like my audience to feel that they are on a path of historical discovery with me. I have learned to organize and communicate connections in diverse information.

I have learned to conceptualize many sides of a controversial issue, to understand the root of the issue and differing perspectives, and to effectively resolve informational conflict. ***deleted summary*** I have learned from my experiences. I analyze my own behavior and think of alternative ways of behaving that may produce better or more effective results. I also review the behavior of others and our interactions so as to examine the results of complex choices that were made and that could be improved the next time the same situation arises.

I have learned from my writing/editing career to form clear and concise written thought with a careful eye for ambiguities in language. I have written over 100, and edited over 7,200 published news and feature stories. I am intellectually curious about people and the world around us. I have learned to actively listen when conducting interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds. Staying cognizant of the reason for the interview — usually a news or feature story — I remain open-minded while listening for context and potential ambiguities. When listening, one might not hear the “comma” that one would see if reading, such as occurs in the well-known example: “Let’s eat Grandma” versus “Let’s eat, Grandma.” I taught myself the Associated Press Style of writing because it is widely used at my place of employment. The journalistic style of writing that I must use in my line of work is self-taught and oftentimes quite different from my academic writing. Both journalistic and academic writing require integrity (citing sources) and ethical considerations. Most importantly, stories connect us and make us feel alive. The Internet has the ability to connect one voice to many which is analogous to saying that it connects one voice to the collective spirit. Storytelling has always been a big part of my life and I plan on making up stories for the rest of my life. ;-}

Works Cited

Baran, S. J., and Davis, D. K. (2012). Mass Communication Theory: Foundations, Ferment, and Future, 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.

Herman, E. S. and Chomsky, N. (1988). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. New York: Pantheon.

Holmes, D. (2005). Communication Theory: Media, Technology and Society. California: SAGE Publications.

Littlejohn, S. W., and Foss, K.A. (2008). Theories of Human Communication, 9th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.

McQuail, D. (2010). McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory, 6th ed. California: SAGE Publications.

Samter, W. (2009). Explaining Communication: Contemporary Theories and Exemplars. New York: Taylor & Francis e-Library.

Stacks, D. W., and Salwen, B. (2009). An Integrated Approach To Communication Theory and Research, 2nd ed. New York: Taylor & Francis e-Library.

DOCUMENTATION SECTION:

For each qualification/skill/learning outcome you claim in the above sections, this section is where you include proof. For example, if you claim to have public speaking skills, include a copy of a speech you wrote and presented and/or a copy of your PowerPoint presentation and/or a press release about your speech. This is where you put copies of certificates and awards you have received, as well as “thank you” cards and letters. Your documentation should be for learning that occurred outside of school. The portfolio does not give you credit for things you did for a class for which you have gotten credit already. If you create forms or have written policies or grants, include copies of those in this section. If you design brochures, websites or other marketing material, include samples.

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY SECTION:

Annotated Bibliography

Baran, S. J., and Davis, D. K. (2012). Mass Communication Theory: Foundations, Ferment, and Future, 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.
A solid base for learning about many communication theories: an introduction that begins with a history of communication to future trends. Also, ideologies about cultural and social communications.

Herman, E. S. and Chomsky, N. (1988). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. New York: Pantheon.
This book provides metadata on criticisms about the manner in which the media provides biased news based on the dominant social class and its needs.

Holmes, D. (2005). Communication Theory: Media, Technology and Society. California: SAGE Publications.
This book contrasts various types of communications, particularly old media which was one-way and new media, which has the potential to be interactive with its audience.

Littlejohn, S. W., and Foss, K.A. (2008). Theories of Human Communication, 9th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.
This book offers a good overview of many types of communication theories.

McQuail, D. (2010). McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory, 6th ed. California: SAGE Publications.
This book provides a look at different components of communication such as the sender, the message, and the audience among various types of media and how all relate to culture.

Samter, W. (2009). Explaining Communication: Contemporary Theories and Exemplars. New York: Taylor & Francis e-Library.
This book offers scholarly perspectives on communication theories, from its history to future possibilities among various media.

Stacks, D. W., and Salwen, B. (2009). An Integrated Approach To Communication Theory and Research, 2nd ed. New York: Taylor & Francis e-Library.
Research findings are included in this book along with communication theories.

Recognizing Cultural Sustainability

April 7, 2012

Denise Scammon

April 8, 2012

Recognizing Cultural Sustainability

Sustainability, as defined by the Brundtland Commission, an organization that was created in 1983 to promote integrated global sustainability, focuses on meeting current human needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Traditionally, the sustainability paradigm encompasses the interactions between humans and the economic, social and environmental aspects of living. Many Venn diagrams readily available on the Internet support this fact. In his book, The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future, Wessels states that there are three laws of sustainability: the law of limits to growth, the second law of thermodynamics, and the law of self-organization in complex systems. He explains that these laws contribute to linear reductionist thinking which does not take into account how all the parts of a complex system interact with each other, interactions that cannot be predicted exactly. Wessels notes that, “What is lost in this paradigmatic view of the world is that the whole may be much more than the sum of its parts” (6). This is an important argument for the inclusion of culture as the fourth pillar of sustainability. The topic of adding culture to the already widely accepted three pillars of sustainability — social, environmental, and economic — is an important idea for society to address because the addition of a fourth pillar to represent culture creates a holistic approach to sustainability. Cultural sustainability examines ways to improve our lives and leave a viable inheritance for future generations. The addition of cultural sustainability as the fourth pillar is not controversial — but it is only in recent years that culture on its own merits and not as part of one of the other three pillars has been added to discussions about sustainability. I believe that cultural sustainability is equally as important as economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability and should be included as one of four pillars supporting sustainability in a holistic approach. This is a message that needs to be expressed through mass communications as well as through education. Cultural sustainability involves efforts to preserve the tangible and intangible cultural elements of society in ways that promote environmental, economic, and social sustainability.

Sustainability needs to be a part of all decisions and actions, whether the consideration is economic, environmental, social or cultural, no matter if the decision or action is being made at the local, national, or global level. Economic sustainability assesses various plans for best financial value, expected life span, maintenance and operational costs. According to a diagram promoting the sustainability theories of Adam Werbach, an environmental activist, published on the website, “The Living Principles for Design,” economic sustainability is concerned with “actions and issues that affect how people and organizations meet their basic needs, evolve and define economic success and growth.” Environmental sustainability attempts to minimize the use of nonrenewable resources and energy consumption, eliminate waste to land fill, etc. It is concerned with “actions and issues that affect natural systems, including climate change, preservation, carbon footprint, and restoration of natural resources” (Werbach). Social sustainability focuses on meeting all, or as many of a community’s needs as possible, such as appropriate facilities for the elderly, children and cultural groups. It is concerned with “actions and issues that affect all aspects of society, including poverty, violence, injustice, education, healthcare, safe housing, labor, and human rights” (Werbach). Cultural sustainability is concerned with “actions and issues that affect how communities manifest identity, preserve and cultivate traditions, and develop belief systems and commonly accepted values” (Werbach).

Cultural sustainability examines ways to enhance our cultural identity and sense of place through heritage, shared spaces, public art, social capital, educational opportunities, and public policies in ways that promote environmental, economic, and social sustainability. As the concept of sustainability continues to evolve, cultural sustainability will be included in discussions that examine culture and its links to environmental, economic and social dimensions of society. In these discussions, we will find that culture is linked to the economy through income generation and employment; culture is linked to social programs that deal with poverty, equal rights, and civic engagement; and culture is linked to the environment through the use of cultural capital to raise environmental awareness and responsibility. In “Integrating Environmental and Cultural Sustainability for Heritage Properties,” Powter and Ross state, “The definition of cultural sustainability continues to evolve, yet explicit reference to heritage conservation (or historic preservation) is often overlooked or applied simplistically” (5). For example, a building has real estate value, but may also have spiritual, symbolic or cultural value, in addition to its economic value. A building’s cultural value is also known as cultural capital which encompasses tangible forms of culture such as places, arts, and artifacts. In A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Throsby notes that, “Intangible cultural capital includes forms of culture such as “ideas, practices, beliefs, traditions, etc.” (4). The inheritance of all types of cultural capital is similar to the inheritance of natural capital — both represent intergenerational equity. Throsby explains the intergenerational equity of natural and cultural capital: “Both have been inherited from the distant or recent past, the former provided as a gift of nature, the latter deriving from human creativity. Both impose a duty of care on the present generation, the essence of sustainability” (4). Cultural heritage connects people to a place through an identity and values, and the continuance of that heritage is what cultural sustainability is about. As people strive to maintain their sense of self and place, decisions and actions relating to sustainability need to take into account a community’s cultural capital.

When preserving cultural capital for contemporary and future use, communities are protecting their cultural identities, both tangible and intangible. Including applications of cultural, economic, environmental, and social sustainability in community development and identity preservation has positive effects on creating a paradigm shift in the general worldview of sustainability. These positive effects occur because each group focuses on its own identity and is not forced to accept another group’s cultural identity. Powter and Ross state, “Not only is heritage conservation concerned with protecting cultural objects that are in limited supply and once gone are gone forever; it also contributes directly to sustainable development and sustainable communities” (6). Cultural sustainability supports the other three pillars of sustainability – social, economic, environmental – for example, through the re-use, recycling, and/or repurposing of resources on which energy has already been spent. Powter and Ross explain, “[L]ike environmental sustainability, heritage conservation promotes the use of existing resources; that is, resources that have previously received an investment in extraction, energy, and land” (6). An example of how cultural sustainability can support the other pillars of sustainability occurs when buildings get used for new purposes, perhaps offering a socially sustainable benefit to low-income residents. Using a building for new purposes may offer an economic benefit, too, because funds are not needed to build new; and it may also offer environmental benefits because building materials are not disposed as waste in landfills. Yet, cultural sustainability has taken decades to get this far in discussions of sustainability because culture does not always receive the publicity it warrants if it is to be considered a pillar of sustainability. Communication is very important in disseminating the message about cultural sustainability and its integration with the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of sustainability.

Communications Effect on Sustainability

Efforts made by various entities to get the message out to mainstream society about cultural sustainability include communications that inform, shape, and shift our relations with the other three dimensions of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental. In his essay, “Naturalizing Communication and Culture,” Carbaugh states,

Communication is the basic social process through which our natural ways and cultural meanings are being exercised socially. Further, whether this communication is explicitly about landscapes, lions, limousines, or whatever, in the process we implicate something of natural and cultural processes, with our communication being radically consequential for, if not the whole of, both the natural and the cultural (40).

Since models of sustainability must begin at the local level, that is also where communications should focus until there is a paradigm shift in the worldview toward sustainability; there is no “one size fits all” model that can be managed through one global movement. Each community is best left to create its own paradigm shift which, collectively, adds to the worldview. We are seeing a greater appreciation via mass communications for the diversity of cultures around the world, but, still, communities must focus on the preservation of their own cultures with local sustainability in mind before looking at cultural sustainability on a global scale which will occur organically in a collective manner.

Prior to achieving a paradigm shift in the general worldview toward sustainability, grassroot efforts need to be undertaken at the local level where communications can propel a greater appreciation for local culture. The sustainability framework based on three pillars – social, environmental, and economic – will change with the recognition of culture as part of that framework. In “Media Frames and Environmental Discourse: The Case of ‘Focus: Logjam,'” Schlechtweg notes,

To understand how a newscast or newspaper item intersects with public discourse, we have to go ‘beyond the text’ to consider the discursive – and hence social, cultural, and historical – context in which it is embedded. It is at this point that the limitations imposed by a media frame, and its implications and significance for environmental discourse, become apparent (258).

Culture and values are significant components of communities, but each culture’s values are not static; they evolve over time, thus first shifting local views of what defines sustainability and then creating paradigm shifts in the worldview on sustainability. Holistic efforts to integrate all four pillars of sustainability should be part of discussions on how the four pillars are linked. For example, quality of life is related to both social and cultural capital. But, using communication to share ideas about sustainability at the local level can require just as much strategic planning as at the global level. Local institutions should be involved in promoting a sense of place and identity that fits with the local cultures. Cultural well-being occurs when communities and individuals are provided social activities that promote cultural capital. Cultural sustainability must not focus on tangibles over intangibles so that communities can retain a holistic sense of place and identity. Intellectual and spiritual experiences are just as important to one’s sense of well-being as heritage buildings and art.

Using communication to guide global sustainability efforts across cultures involves interpersonal, group, mass, and global types of communication. The authors of “From Selling Soap to Selling Sustainability: Social Marketing,” published in the 2010 State of the World report, examine how the use of social marketing to fix ecological problems can affect social behavior leading to changes in lifestyle and politics. Story-based campaigns shift consumer behavior based on perceived identities linked to choice of products (Jonah Sachs and Susan Finkelpearl 2010). From this observation, the importance of identity is connected to lifestyle and politics which are part of a community’s culture. In “Consumption Behavior and Narratives About the Good Life,” Michaelis notes,

Efforts to engineer cultural change have not worked well and have often had unintended consequences. … One of the most important stimuli for cultural change has been the emergence of new technology, especially transport and communication technology (258).

Appropriating the latest in communication technology, including online social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, enables messages and campaigns to move along more swiftly than even as recently as five years ago. These online social networks will continue to evolve with newer technology, but the quickness and reach of messages communicated through these networks increases the effect of any campaigns and I believe we will see sustainability becoming a more common discussion because of new communication technology.

Economic and Cultural Interactions

Cultural sustainability involves efforts to preserve the tangible and intangible cultural elements of society in ways that promote economic sustainability. Cultural activities can promote local policy making and economic factors through a sense of place and social activities that bring together people from diverse backgrounds. According to Throsby, capital assets, such as “artworks in a museum, or historic buildings or sites,” produce

income flows [that] might be generated by displaying the artworks for people to look at, or by opening the buildings and sites to tourists. In each case a stream of monetary income is generated which accrues to the immediate owners of the asset in question; at the same time a stream of ‘cultural income’ is also generated, some of which accrues to society at large as public-good benefits arising from the existence of these items of the cultural capital stock (8).

Using cultural capital to generate a sustainable economy is already occurring. Each time someone pays to walk through a museum to view art works or attends a music concert, that money is generating a sustainable economy.

One unusual idea that has not gained widespread use is to swap labor for more free time. This idea takes into account the economic and human activities that consume nonrenewable resources, activities which cannot be allowed to continue without severe environmental consequences. Working fewer hours has been shown to improve health, reduce air pollution from cars and factories, provide more time to enjoy life/ nature, and decrease the desire for material things, according to de Graaf in “Reducing Work Time as a Path to Sustainability,” published in the 2010 State of the World report.

An example of how cultural capital can promote economic sustainability can be found in any natural or built environment that generates tourism. However, discussions on the merits of preserving such cultural capital in the face of erosion and degradation need to be addressed and policies put in place before being confronted with such dilemmas. In “Cultural Heritage: Dilemma of Preservation in the Midst of Change,” Robertson-von Trotha examines the ecological sustainability of world cultural sites including the canals in Venice. The canals have changed over time and now threaten to flood the city. While the canals are a boom to the tourism economy, the number of boats using the canals have damaged the area’s ecology (2011). In this situation, decisions need to be made about the relationship between culture and the environment. This is an ethical discussion, because on the one hand, a built landscape has created a tourism economy, but on the other hand, that built landscape is hurting the environment. Will the answers be based on an obligation to the environment, the economy, or to the culture of that region? Closer to home, a similar example are the mills along the Androscoggin River that pumped carcinogenic waste into the river during the manufacture of products. The local community was dependent on the mills for wages and so rather than shut down the mills until the pollution problem was fixed, the mills continued to contaminate the river for years, implementing very few of the pollution guidelines as they were created by legislation. The mills eventually closed as the work moved overseas where labor was cheap. But if the mills hadn’t closed for economic reasons, would they have continued to manufacture and pollute the environment? Today, the history of the mostly Franco-American mill workers – on the job, at home, at church – presents the Franco-American culture to the community in positive ways that they did not enjoy during their working days in the mills. The mills supported the workers and the workers spent their money locally. The mill buildings are now either empty because the cost to bring them up to today’s building codes is too expensive for most buyers or they have been recycled into new uses such as office space, restaurants, a museum, and living space. The mills are great examples of how culture integrates with social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability.

Environmental and Cultural Interactions

Being cognizant of cultural diversity is a powerful part of the paradigm shift, as evidenced by the turn in status of the Franco-American population and preservation of the mills in Lewiston-Auburn over the last few decades. Cultural sustainability projects benefit the environment through the preservation of cultural capital such as buildings that retain a community’s heritage. Cultural capital can be produced or preserved with environmentally friendly materials. The concerns of environmentalists/ecologists include endangered species which is similar to the concerns of those promoting cultural sustainability such as threats of the demolition of historic places or the extinction of indigenous languages, according to Throsby (5). Recognizing the cultural capital of a community enables discussion about the importance of its part in sustainability actions and programs. Culture can promote the values and visions of sustainability between social, environmental, and economic concerns in creative ways that provide opportunities for discussions that result in new answers.

Choice editing has made consumerism appear to be a natural activity and was used to promote mass consumption. Today, government and industry are becoming proponents of environmental sustainability through standards, labels, and policies. In his article, “Editing Out Unsustainable Behavior,” from the 2010 State of the World report, author Maniates writes about the choice editing of:

Safety and performance standards for everything from the food people eat to the cars they drive constrain and shape choice. The same holds true for tax, tariff, and subsidy policies that heighten the desirability of some products while making others unattractive or unavailable. More subtly, government decisions about where to build roads and rail lines, what schools and hospitals are constructed or closed, and which research and development initiatives are supported or starved converge to write the menu for housing, education, and jobs from which everyone must choose” (2010).

How does culture relate to, and what does it contribute to environmental sustainability in a discussion on choice editing and consumerism? Consumers make purchases based on the messages they receive through mass communications, particularly advertisements, but also based on news — which has been edited. Who is doing the editing and for what purpose? Those questions and the answers are important to the discussion about the integration of culture and environmental sustainability. This is also a good example of the overlap between the four pillars of sustainability. Certain products are promoted for which there may be an agenda that benefits an entity economically but to the detriment of cultural, social, and environmental sustainability.

Another example of how culture and environment integrate is through consumerism and labels on products. Labels could be an effective way to move consumerism toward sustainability, but Maniates writes,

At least three factors limit the effectiveness of labeling: the varying degree of environmental commitment among the general population; the complexity of consumer-choice decisions, which are structured by intricate sets of social processes and cultural influences; and a corrosive ‘choice architecture’ — the potent context within which people make decisions (SOW 2010).

In this example, we have labels placed on products that may have different values for different cultures. This is a good example of how global policies are not necessarily the best method of promoting sustainability policies. Certain products may mean more to one group in a community than another group, and thus it is important that discussions about sustainability take place at the local level. The collective effect of local efforts that take into account diverse cultures and sustainability will be the most conducive to a paradigm shift in the worldview toward sustainability.

Education & Cultural Sustainability

Efforts to preserve cultural elements of society in ways that promote sustainability include education, communication, public policies, and the work of organizations like UNESCO. Through education, careful attention should be paid to globalization so that homogenization does not destroy culture at the local level. Policies should be created with flexibility in mind to account for differences in the cultural values of each community. Storytelling can be used at the local level to preserve a community’s culture and sense of identity in a sustainable manner. In Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural, Sturgeon writes,

The hallmark of environmental cultural studies is that it moves away from the emphasis on interpretation of texts found in ecocriticism, to use a framework that aims at historically and culturally specific analyses of the intertwining of political economy, cultural production, and ideological representations. One of the things that distinguishes this approach from traditional ecocritical and radical environmental movement traditions is the cultural studies emphasis on a critique of naturalization (11).

Improving a community’s knowledge about the four dimensions of sustainability – social, environmental, economic, and cultural – can take place in local educational venues that promote art and culture. Education about the complex integration of all four pillars and how they often overlap in discussions is key to an understanding of how culture can promote environmental, economic, and social sustainability.

Social and Cultural Interactions

The definition of culture and how it contributes to sustainability is a key aspect of education and mass communication in order to promote the idea that cultural capital is important to a community’s identity and well-being. Culture, such as art, food, and music – tangible and intangible cultural capital — has traditionally been included in discussions of social sustainability, but it is time that culture is recognized for its own merits as part of a paradigm shift in the worldview on sustainability. Social sustainability includes a community’s ability to provide its members with the tools for personal health, adequate food and shelter, opportunities for employment and education, and freedom to participate in civic affairs. Social capital refers to how closely and to what depth a community meets the needs of its members. Together, cultural and social sustainability develop community capital which adds to quality of life and sense of place. Van Londen and de Ruijterhe, the authors of “Sustainable Diversity,” examine questions pertaining to social progress such as how to best distribute scarce resources among societies and how diverse cultures can work together to pursue cultural and economic sustainability. The discussions surrounding these questions include the diverse global flows of culture — products, ideas, images, people (reminds me of the cross-cultural activity that took place on the Silk Road), and the resulting diaspora communities and interactions with marginalized groups (3-24). Each community will take its own unique approach to social sustainability with the goal of satisfying basic human needs.

Wessels’s reference to nomadic hunter-gatherer societies as an example of a time when life was “extraordinarily rich” does not necessarily serve as a useful example of how we can adjust our lives today. Each of us lives a life that is unique to our subjective selves and some of us like to live in the city while others prefer more isolated abodes. As an example of how communities can work together toward progress, perhaps the example of hunter-gatherers could teach modern societies how to start small at the local level, but think big in the global results of economic, social, and environmental movements.

Practical Applications of Cultural Sustainability

Any change in economic, environmental, or social policies that affect cultural aspects of a community, should be guided by the cultural values of that community whenever possible. Using global values carries the risk of homogenizing the diversity and complexity of our world. Respect must be shown to the history and character of whatever gives a community a sense of place. Whatever it is about a place that denotes a community’s heritage, and that could be a physical landmark or a ritual, should be included in sustainability applications. A sense of place is not handed down from the government; it comes from the people who make up a community. In his book, Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, Cronon quotes anthropologist Stephen Feld:

‘When I read that we lose 15-20,000 species of plants and animals a year through the logging, ranching and mining that escalates rainforest destruction, my mind immediately begins to ponder how to possibly calculate the number of songs, myths, words, ideas, artifacts, techniques – all the cultural knowledge and practices lost per year in these mega-diversity zones’ (317).

Similarly, a language is lost every 14 days, mostly due to the only person on Earth using that language, dying, and the language not having been preserved. To historians and anthropologists, and perhaps to other researchers, the loss of a language amounts to a huge loss to humanity. But, while the loss of a language may herald the death of a specific culture, does it equate to a loss of one of the four pillars of sustainability? Certainly, there’s a loss of culture, especially if the language was not recorded, as happened when the last member of the Eyak tribe in northwest Alaska passed away. Why would the preservation of a language be important to sustainability in general? A discussion about language as cultural capital is an example of how education and communication are important aspects of sustainability campaigns.

Sustainability campaigns should propose that within the realm of cultural sustainability, communities must learn to minimize their consumption of natural resources. In the essay, “Restoring for Cultural-Ecological Sustainability in Arizona and Connecticut,” the authors examine the ways in which cultural restoration provides a look at the historical interactions between humans and nature. Examples of the progress being made toward the inclusion of cultural sustainability as the fourth pillar include the ecological and social degradation of a specific marsh and the creation of economic growth through an exchange of goods and services (Casagrande and Vasquez 2010). In contrast to the restoration of the mills along the Androscoggin River in Lewiston-Auburn, which are part of the built environment, the restoration of the marsh focuses on the natural environment. Recognizing both built and natural environments that are part of the cultural capital of a community as important assets that provide individuals living in that community with an identity and sense of place should lead to the development of practical applications toward sustainability.

In her essay, “Nature and Environmental Justice,” Evans states,

Locating oneself, or being located, in Nature is a throughly cultural activity: when actual subjects in the United States set forth to experience ‘the call of the wild,’ they are accompanied always by cultural expectations that the encounter may change or consolidate their identity in some meaningful way (182).

First comes the acknowledgment that nature can be a cultural experience. Then comes discussion about ways to apply activities that preserve that culture while at the same time promote sustainability. Using Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon as examples, if earthquakes threatened the natural environment, the local economy of those areas would be in danger of economic loss due to the fact that those natural environments could not be recreated. In contrast, Walt Disney creates fantastic worlds that attract millions of visitors which generates an economic boost to the local economy wherever the magic kingdoms are located. However, if an earthquake destroyed Disney World, another theme park could be created to replace it. Nature is different than built environments. The documentary film, Pururambo, examines some of the most primitive inhabitants on Earth — Kombai tribes of New Guinea, some of whom live in trees — and compares their culture and lifestyle with modern mainstream culture. The film shows how the Western world is tough on indigenous cultures. Director Barabas delves into the loss of culture and the homogenization of our society (Barabas 2005). Nature is too complex to be created from a formula, unlike theme parks.

Conclusion

Sustainability can be defined as the ability to meet current environmental/ecological, economic, social, and cultural needs without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In Communicating Nature: How We Create and Understand Environmental Messages, Corbett states, “Our sense of place – in addition to childhood experiences and historical and cultural contexts – influences how we perceive, experience, and value the natural world and ultimately, influences all our entire belief systems” (25). Practical applications of cultural sustainability can minimize the use of natural capital through resource management; improve tangible social capital such as public facilities and infrastructure; and strengthen economic capital through fair trade and getting more out of renewable resources. Special efforts to preserve natural and built landmarks that nurture a sense of place are vital parts of cultural sustainability. In conclusion, sustainability efforts that once were characterized by environmental, social, and economic discussions, now see the inclusion of culture in the discussions as a holistic benefit to communities through the development of a sense of place.

There is more to sustainability than environmental practices, economic growth, and equitable social services. Sustainability also includes a community’s values and cultural heritage. A paradigm shift in the worldview toward sustainability needs to include discussions about cultural sustainability in ways that do not damage our ecosystem, environment, and social well-being. The strategies toward this paradigm shift need to be inclusive and holistic. Throsby notes, “The notion of diversity, which is of such overwhelming importance in the natural world, has an equally vital role to play in cultural systems” (4). A combination of policies and designs that cover all four pillars of sustainability are needed to meet this goal. Look at the places we live and work. Are they environmentally friendly? Economically feasible? And, do they contribute to a sense of place? We need to place a high value on social and cultural capital. Strengthen the capital in our communities, whether that capital is natural or built, tangible or intangible, and that action will build the foundation on which sustainability is empowered as people identify with their culture and sense of place.

 

Works Cited

 

Brundtland Commission. Definition of Sustainable Development. United Nations, Dept. of Information, 2007. Web. 13 March 2012. http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd15/media/backgrounder_brundtland.pdf

Carbaugh, Donal. “Naturalizing communication and culture.” Ed. J. G. Cantrill and C. L. Oravec. The Symbolic Earth: Discourse and Our Creation of the Environment. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Casagrande, David G. and Vasquez, Miguel. “Restoring for Cultural-Ecological Sustainability in Arizona and Connecticut.” Restoration and History: The Search for a Usable Environmental Past. Ed. Marcus Hall. New York: Routledge, 2010.

Corbett, Julia B. Communicating Nature: How We Create and Understand Environmental Messages. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2006. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Cronon, William. Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

De Graaf, John. “Reducing Work Time as a Path to Sustainability.” 2010 State of the World: Transforming Cultures, From Consumerism to Sustainability. Worldwatch Institute. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010.

Evans, Mei Mei. “Nature and environmental justice.” Ed. Joni Adamson, et al. The Environmental Justice Reader: Politics, Poetics, and Pedagogy. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2002. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Maniates, Michael. “Editing Out Unsustainable Behavior.” 2010 State of the World: Transforming Cultures, From Consumerism to Sustainability. Worldwatch Institute. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010.

Michaelis, Laurie. “Consumption Behavior and Narratives About the Good Life.” Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change. Lisa Dilling and Susanne C. Moser, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 251-265. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Powter, Andrew and Ross, Susan. “Integrating Environmental and Cultural Sustainability for Heritage Properties.” Association for Preservation Technology International. 36.4. (2005): 5-11. Web. 2 april 2012.

Pururambo. Dir. Pavol Barabas. Slovakia: K2 Studio, 2005.

Robertson-von Trotha, Caroline Y. “Cultural Heritage: Dilemma of Preservation in the Midst of Change.” Sustainable Development – Relationships to Culture, Knowledge and Ethics. Eds. Oliver Parodi, et al. KIT Scientific Publishing, 2011.

Sachs, Jonah and Finkelpearl, Susan. “From Selling Soap to Selling Sustainability: Social Marketing.” 2010 State of the World: Transforming Cultures, From Consumerism to Sustainability. Worldwatch Institute. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010.

Schlechtweg, Harold P. “Media Frames and Environmental Discourse: The Case of ‘Focus: Logjam.'” The Symbolic Earth: Discourse and Our Creation of the Environment. Eds. James G. Cantrill and Christine L. Oravec. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1996.

Sturgeon, Noel. Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2009. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Throsby, David. A Handbook of Cultural Economics. Ed. Ruth Towse. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing Inc., 2003.

van Londen, Selma and de Ruijter, Arie. “Sustainable Diversity.” The Sustainability of cultural Diversity: Nations, Cities and Organizations. Eds. Maddy Janssens, et al. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing Inc., 2010.

Werbach, Adam. “The Living Principles for Design.” Core77, Inc., 2012. Web. 8 Feb. 2012. http://www.core77.com/blog/business/the_living_principles_for_design_a_new_online_community_for_sustainable_design_16800.asp

Wessels, Tom. The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future. Hanover, NH: University of Vermont Press, 2006.

I. Define sustainability.

March 13, 2012

          Sustainability needs to be a part of all decisions and actions, whether the consideration is economic, environmental, social or cultural. Economic sustainability assesses various plans for best financial value, expected life span, maintenance and operational costs. It is concerned with “actions and issues that affect how people and organizations meet their basic needs, evolve and define economic success and growth” (The Living Principles for Design, web). Environmental sustatinability attempts to minimize nonrenewable water and energy consumption, waste to land fill, etc. It is concerned with “actions and issues that affect natural systems, including climate change, preservation, carbon footprint, and restoration of natural resources” (The Living Principles for Design, web). Social sustainability focuses on meeting all, or as many of the community’s needs as possible, such as appropriate facilities for the elderly, children and cultural groups. It is concerned with “actions and issues that affect all aspects of society, including poverty, violence, injustice, education, healthcare, safe housing, labor, and human rights” (The Living Principles for Design, web, http://www.core77.com/blog/business/the_living_principles_for_design_a_new_online_community_for_sustainable_design_16800.asp). Cultural sustainability involves efforts to preserve the tangible and intangible cultural elements of society such as heritage, shared spaces, public art, social capital, educational opportunities, and public policies, in ways that promote environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Cultural sustainability examines ways to enhance our cultural identity and sense of place. A building has real estate value, but may also have spiritual, symbolic or cultural — in addition to economic — value. A building’s cultural value is also known as cultural capital which encompasses tangible forms of culture in addition to buildings such as places, arts, artefacts. Intangible cultural capital includes forms such as “ideas, practices, beliefs, traditions, etc.” (Throsby 4).

Cultural Sustainability: Opening paragraph

March 13, 2012

          Sustainability focuses on meeting current human needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (per Brundtland Commission 1987 definition: get source). Traditionally, the sustainability paradigm encompasses economic, social and environmental aspects of living. Many Venn diagrams readily available on the Internet support this fact. I believe that cultural sustainability is equally as important as economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainability and should be included as one of four pillars supporting sustainability in a holistic approach. Cultural sustainability involves efforts to preserve the tangible and intangible cultural elements of society such as heritage, shared spaces, public art, social capital, educational opportunities, and public policies, in ways that promote environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Culture and communication inform, shape, and shift our relations with the environment.

Outline for essay on Cultural Sustainability

March 13, 2012

THESIS: Cultural sustainability involves efforts to preserve the tangible and intangible cultural elements of society such as heritage, shared spaces, public art, social capital, educational opportunities, and public policies, in ways that promote environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Culture and communication inform, shape, and shift our relations with the environment.

I. Define sustainability. Sustainability can be defined as the ability to meet current environmental/ ecological, economic, social, and cultural needs without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet those same needs.

A. Environmental/ecological: land, water, air, ecosystems, biosphere.

B. Economic: flow of capital.

C. Social

D. Cultural

II. Examine cultural sustainability.

A. Tangible cultural elements

B. Intangible cultural elements

III. Examine efforts to preserve cultural elements of society in ways that promote sustainability.

A. Education

B. Communication

C. Public policies

D. UNESCO: Linking cultures around the world to promote sustainability

IV. Using communication to guide global sustainability efforts across cultures.

A. Interpersonal, group, mass, and global types of communication

B. Recognize the existence of global differences in language and cultures

C. Brundtland Commission

D. Content: what should be communicated

E. The role of the media in communicating sustainability messages

V. Conclusion.

A. Practical applications of cultural sustainability

B. Communication encourages civic engagement

 

New Resources

 

Carbaugh, Donal. “Naturalizing communication and culture.” Ed. J. G. Cantrill and C. L. Oravec. The Symbolic Earth: Discourse and Our Creation of the Environment. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Corbett, Julia B. Communicating Nature: How We Create and Understand Environmental Messages. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2006. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Cronon, William. Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Eds. Dilling, Lisa. and Moser, Susanne C. Introduction. Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Evans, Mei Mei. “Nature and environmental justice.” Ed. Joni Adamson, et al. The Environmental Justice Reader: Politics, Poetics, and Pedagogy. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2002. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Maniates, Michael. “Editing Out Unsustainable Behavior.” 2010 State of the World: Transforming Cultures, From Consumerism to Sustainability. Worldwatch Institute. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010.

Milstein, Tema O. “Environmental communication theories.” Encyclopedia of Communication Theory. Ed. Stephen Littlejohn and Karen Foss. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2009. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. http://www.unm.edu/~tema/06_docmnts/milsteinenvirocomtheories.pdf

Pyle, Robert M. “Eden in a vacant lot: Special places, species, and kids in the neighborhood of life.” Children and nature: Psychological, sociocultural, and evolutionary investigations, Ed. Peter H. Kahn, Jr. and Stephen R. Kellert. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Sandlin, Jennifer A., and Milam, Jennifer L. “Mixing Pop (Culture) and Politics: Cultural Resistance, Culture Jamming, and Anti-consumption Activism as Critical Public Pedagogy.” Curriculum Inquiry, 38(3). Malden, MA: Wiley Periodicals, Inc., 2008. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Sturgeon, Noel. Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2009. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

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September 13, 2011

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