Sustainability: A question of semantics or action?
10:15 AM - 11:30 AM
Sat Oct 6, 2018
Harvard Kennedy School - B-200 (STARR)
society PANEL


Co-hosted with the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies


The past two years have seen an onslaught of climate disasters while, at the same time, climate change deniers have risen to political prominence in the US and Europe. The situation is growing more dire by the day, and yet professionals in the field of “sustainability” still lack basic definitions and frameworks for the term.

What do we mean by “sustainability”, and how can we work towards it when we don’t agree what problems we are trying to solve? The term can encompass topics ranging from energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions to promoting inclusive social policies or revenue-generating activities. We need to get more precise because “greenwashing”, or superficially applying the sustainable label to everything, could be as debilitating to real action as an active backlash.

This panel seeks to define the key problems sustainability seeks to address and explore how those in the field can combat greenwashing on one side and climate change denial on the other. What will the role of the US and Germany be in defining sustainable practices, and what can those looking for more environmentally, economically, and socially sound futures do to realize those visions?


Aurélie Bros Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
Alicia Harley Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School
Nicholas A. Ashford Professor of Technology & Policy, MIT
Ingrid Schulte Land Use Consultant, Climate Focus
Sabine von Mering Professor of German and Women's and Gender Studies, Brandeis University

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