SOC 421


FALL 2006

SOC 421 Syllabus:  Printer Friendly Version


Readings Course
Learning Opportunities Policies and

Text in blue are hyperlinks


View the report from the Sustainable Development research project.  Also, come to the ROMEA conference on September 26, 2007 to see the poster on the Sustainable Development group project. The ROMEA conference is in the Jacob Conference Center in Ewing Hall.

View the photos from the Community Meeting on Nov. 28, 2006.


Course Information:


Meeting Place:  216 Jobe Hall

Meeting Times:  Tuesdays, 6:00–9:00 pm

Instructor Information:


Instructor: Dr. Alan Barton

Office: 37 Ward Hall

Telephone: (662) 846-4097



Office Hours:

The instructor holds regular office hours at the following times:


    Monday 9:00 – 10:00 am; 11:00 am – 12:00 noon

    Tuesday 3:00 – 4:00 pm; 5:00 - 6:00 pm
    Wednesday 9:00 – 10:00 am; 11:00 am – 12:00 noon
    Thursday 3:00 – 5:00 pm
    Friday 9:00 – 10:00 am; 11:00 am – 12:00 noon

If you cannot make one of these times, contact the professor to set up an appointment.

Course Webpage:


Additional materials and updated course information can be found on the course webpage:

Course Overview:


This course provides a practical, policy-oriented review of the concept of sustainable development.  While the concept of sustainability has a long history in resource management, the notion that development must be sustainable rose to international prominence in the 1980s, received substantial attention and interest in the 1990s, and continues to shape international policy today.  We will study the evolution of the concept of sustainable development, focusing primarily on three conferences sponsored by the United Nations in 1972, 1992 and 2002.  We will consider the products of these conferences critically and practically to assess the viability of the concept of sustainable development in the local, national and international arenas.

This is the core course in the Sustainable Development track for Community Development M.S. students.  It is a concentration course for undergraduate students majoring in sociology or social sciences, and is an elective for undergraduate and graduate students studying social science education.

Prerequisites:  SOC 101 or permission of instructor.


The Course Outline below lists the reading assignments for each class meeting; you should do the assigned reading BEFORE the class meeting for which it is assigned.

Click here for tips on studying the readings for this course.

Required Books:

The required books are available at the DSU Bookstore.  You should purchase both books or otherwise arrange to complete the reading assignments from these books.

Rachel Carson. 2002. Silent Spring. 40th Anniversary Edition. Mariner Books, Boston.  ISBN: 0-61-824906-0.

Samuel P. Hays. 2000. A History of Environmental Politics Since 1945. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA.  ISBN: 0-8229-5747-7.

Eric Holt-Gimenez. 2006. Campesino a Campesino: Voices from Latin America's Farmer-to-Farmer Movement for Sustainable Agriculture. Food First Books, Oakland, CA.  ISBN: 0-93-502827-7.

World Commission on Environment and Development. 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford University Press, New York.  ISBN: 0-19-282080-X.

Articles and Reports:

Policy Discussion 2:

IUCN/UNEP/WWF. 1980. World Conservation Strategy: Living Resource Conservation for Sustainable Development. Prepared by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), with advice, cooperation and financial assistance of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  [Handout]

Other Readings:

Jeffrey D. Sachs & Walter V. Reid. 2006. Investments Toward Sustainable Development. Science Vol. 312, Issue 5,776, p. 1002.


For Policy Discussions, you will review material on various webpages.  The links to these pages are listed here.

Policy Discussion 1:

UNEP I. Report of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm 1972).  Read the "Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the  Human Environment" and scan the other documents.


UNEP II. Earthwatch 1972-1992.  Read the brief history of Earthwatch, the U.N. program to implement the 1972 Declaration.

Policy Discussion 3:

UNCED I. United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro 1992).  Read the summary of the Earth Summit (4 web pages; hit right arrow at bottom of each page to continue).

Policy Discussion 4:

UNCED II. Agenda 21. Read the Rio Agreements (see link), and read about the subject area you are assigned in class.

Policy Discussion 5:

UNWSSD I. World Summit on Sustainable Development. Review the documents under "Starters" at the right.

UNWSSD II. Look over the United Nations Environment Programme's WSSD website.

Teaching on Research Readings:


The readings for the Teaching on Research sessions can be found on the Full Text Electronic Journals section of the DSU Library website, unless otherwise indicated.

Teaching on Research 1:

Bill Hopwood, Mary Mellor and Geoff O'Brien. 2005. Sustainable Development: Mapping Different Approaches. Sustainable Development Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 38-52.


Thomas M. Parris and Robert W. Kates. 2003. Characterizing and Measuring Sustainable Development. Annual Review of Environment and Resources Vol. 28, pp. 559-586.

Teaching on Research 2:


Peter Dale. 1997. Land Tenure Issues in Economic Development. Urban Studies Vol. 34, No. 10, pp. 1621-1633.


Eirivelthon Lima, Frank Merry, Daniel Nepstad, Gregory Amacher, Claudia Azevedo-Ramos, Paul Lefebvre and Felipe Resque, Jr. 2006. Searching for Sustainability: Forest Policies, Smallholders and the Trans-Amazon Highway. Environment Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 26-38.


Teaching on Research 3:


Robert H. Nelson. 1996. The Future of the National Forests. Society Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 92-98.


Daniel Pauly, Villy Christensen, Sylvie Guenette, Tony J. Pitcher, U. Rashid Sumails, Carl J. Walters, R. Watson and Dirk Zeller. 2002. Towards Sustainability in World Fisheries. Nature Vol. 418, Issue 6,898, pp. 689-695.


Teaching on Research 4:


Kent E. Portney. 2002. Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously: A Comparative Analysis of Twenty-Four U.S. Cities. Local Environment Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 363-380.

D. McEvoy, D.C. Gibbs and J.W.S. Longhurst. 2000. Assessing the Employment Implications of a Sustainable Energy System: A Methodological Overview. Geographical and Environmental Modelling Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 189-201.


Teaching on Research 5:


Michael Bonnett. 1999. Education for Sustainable Development: A Coherent Philosophy for Environmental Education? Cambridge Journal of Education 29(3):313-324.

Martin Haigh. 2005. Greening the University Curriculum: Appraising an International Movement. Journal of Geography in Higher Education Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 31-48.

Rosalyn McKeown and Charles Hopkins. 2003. EE≠ESD: Defusing the worry. Environmental Education Research Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 117-128.

Teaching on Research 6:

Amy K. Glasmeier and Tracy Farrigan. 2005. Understanding Community Forestry: A Qualitative Meta-Study of the Concept, The Process and Its Potential for Poverty Alleviation in the United States Case. The Geographical Journal Vol. 171, No. 1, pp. 56-69.

Marina Michaelidou, Daniel J. Decker and James P. Lassoie. 2002. The Interdependence of Ecosystem and Community Viability: A Theoretical Framework to Guide Research and Application. Society and Natural Resources Vol. 15, No. 7, pp. 599-616.

Anthony Young. 2005. Poverty, Hunger and Population Policy: Linking Cairo with Johannesburg. The Geographical Journal Vol. 171, No. 1, pp. 83-95.

Recommended Readings:

Steve Davidson. 2005. Transforming Thinking: The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). Ecos Issue 123, pp. 10-12.

Joy A. Palmer and Joanna C. Birch. 2003. Education for Sustainability: The Contribution and Potential of a Non-Governmental Organization. Environmental Education Research Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 447-460.

Mary Joy Pigozzi. 2003. UNESCO and the International Decade for Sustainable Development (2005-2015). CONNECT: UNESCO International Science, Technology & Environmental Education Newsletter Vol. 28, No. 1-2, pp. 1-7.

David Satterthwaite. 1997. Sustainable Cities or Cities That Contribute to Sustainable Development? Urban Studies Vol. 34, No. 10, pp. 1667-1691.

David Shaw and Sue Kidd. 1996. Planning Sustainable Development: Principles and Implementation. Journal of Planning Education and Research Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 237-241.

Naresh Singh and Jonathan Gilman. 1999. Making Livelihoods More Sustainable. International Social Science Journal 51(162):539-545.


Claudio Maria Vargas. 2000. Community Development and Micro-Enterprises: Fostering Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 11-26.

Arthur H. Westing. 1996. Core Values for Sustainable Development. Environmental Conservation Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 218-225. [See instructor for a copy]


Course Objectives:

Once you successfully complete this course, you will be able to:


(1)  Define the concept of sustainable development from a variety of perspectives.


(2)  Explain how the idea of sustainability and development have changed through history, and how policy has evolved in line with these changing conceptions.

(3)  Discuss United Nations efforts to structure and implement sustainable development internationally and locally.

(4)  Apply sustainable development policy statements to current environmental and development issues, and analyze the effects of these policies.


(5)  Critically examine current trends in sustainable development, and relate these to theories of globalization.


These objectives contribute to overall course goals:


(1)  Developing critical thinking skills.  The class discussions, readings, writing assignments and exams are designed to encourage you to develop and use higher-order thinking skills, including analytical, synthetic and applied thinking.  Click here for more information on thinking critically.

(2)  Understanding the social structures and processes that condition our lives.  A basic goal of all sociology courses is to help you understand the nature and workings of these social structures, and how they open opportunities and impose constraints on individuals operating within these structures.  C. Wright Mills called this using your "sociological imagination;" activities in this course are designed to encourage you to use your sociological imagination.  Click here for more information on the sociological imagination.

Course Organization and Approach:


This course uses a participatory, learner-centered, adult education approach.  An adult education approach recognizes that you are responsible for your own learning.  The professor can only provide opportunities to learn, but cannot force you to learn.  You are expected to work hard in this course, meaning that for every hour of class time, you should spend two to three hours outside of class preparing by doing readings, assignments, studying for quizzes and exams, and thinking about the course material.


You are expected to take responsibility for the success of the course, that is, you should take an active interest not just in the course material, but in the course itself, making it a success for all participants.  Factors such as interest, motivation, creativity, and initiative are important elements in evaluating your performance and assigning a grade.


Learning Opportunities: 


All students taking the course for undergraduate (SOC 421) credit must complete the following assignments:


(1) Attendance (10 points)

• You are expected to attend all class sessions
• Because this course meets only once per week, each absence is equivalent to three absences in a MWF course

• See the course policy on absences (no. 3 below)

(2) Participation in
Class Discussions (10 points)

• You are expected to do all of the assigned readings and come to class prepared to discuss them

• You are expected to engage in classroom discussions, reflecting on the topic and readings

• The quality of contributions to class discussions is more important than the quantity of contributions

• Participation in class discussions is not graded based on whether it is “right” or “wrong;” rather, you are expected to engage the material critically, and demonstrate an understanding and ability to apply the course material in productive ways

   Additional Information:

   • Click here for tips on studying the readings for this course.

(3) Essays on Videos (30 points)

• We will view six videos over the course of the semester
• For each video, you will be given a question to ponder
• Prepare an essay in response to the question, using concepts from the course and drawing on the information in the video to illustrate these concepts
• The papers should be typed, 10 or 12 point font, 1 inch margins, double spaced, and should be 2-3 pages in length
• Each essay is worth 5 points, and is due 1 week after we view the video in class
• For out-of-class assignments, you are expected to do your own work –
see the policy on plagiarism and cheating; this policy will be enforced with no exceptions

Additional Information:

• Click here for the questions

• Click here for tips on writing papers for this course


(4) Sustainable Development Policy Discussion Leader (20 points)

• We will read information on a variety of Sustainable Development conferences and initiatives through history
• You will lead a discussion for one of these sessions
• Your responsibility as discussion leader is to ensure that class members discuss the information; therefore, you should have a list of appropriate questions which critically assess these conferences, and which link course concepts to the activities during the conferences

• Click here for a list of the policy discussion leaders

Teaching on Research Discussant (30 points)

• The graduate students will present information on research articles on various sustainable development topics
• You will serve as discussant for two of these discussions
• You will work with the graduate student to prepare the discussion
• Once the graduate student has presented the information in the article, you will ask questions that provoke a more general discussion on the article

• Your questions should apply course concepts to the topic

Additional Information:

Click here for a list of the teaching on research discussion leaders and discussants
• Click here for a list of the teaching on research articles

(6) Critical Engagement (±10 points)

   • The instructor will evaluate your performance based on factors such as the motivation, interest, and improvement you demonstrate in the course



There are a total of 100 points available for the semester.  Your final score is simply the sum of all points earned over the semester.  If you accumulate 90 or more points over the course of the semester, you will get an “A” in the course.  If you accumulate 80 to 89 points, you will get a “B,” for 70 to 79 points you will get a “C,” and for 60 to 69 points will get a “D.”  If you get less than 60 points, your final grade will be an “F.”  Note that you start with zero and earn points; you do not start with 100 and lose points.


If you comply with all course requirements and submit all of the assignments satisfactorily and on time, you can expect a “C” in this course.  To receive a higher grade, you must demonstrate a superior grasp of course material and an ability to apply the material in productive ways.  It is also helpful to show an interest in the course material and in learning, and an achievement-based orientation.



Policies and Expectations:


(1) YOU are responsible for learning the course material and for your progress in the course

    • You are expected to attend class regularly.  An attendance sheet will be passed around at every class session.  Make sure you sign the attendance sheet at each class meeting – this will serve as the official record of attendance, and if your name is not on the sheet, you will not receive credit for attending on that date.

    • You are expected to complete all of the assignments and know all material presented during class sessions, whether you attended the class or not.  If you miss a class session, you should check with another student to see what you missed.

    • “I didn’t know” is NEVER a valid excuse.  If you don’t know something, it is your job to find out.


(2) Missed assignments CANNOT be made up

    • It is assumed that if you miss class or an assignment, you are making a choice that prioritizes other activities above the class.  For this reason, none of the assignments or coursework can be made up.

    • Assignments are due at the time specified; no late assignments will be accepted.

    • If you miss an exam or writing assignment, you will receive a grade of zero for that assignment.  You are not required to turn a writing assignment in every week, but cannot make up assignments if you do not turn in the required number by the end of the semester.

    • If you must miss a presentation or other in-class activity, it is up to you to arrange to trade with another student before the event.  Please notify the instructor of such changes.  Points will be deducted from your grade if you simply do not show up for a presentation.


(3) Illnesses and emergencies MUST be documented

    • If you must miss a class due to illness or another personal emergency, notify the instructor BEFORE the missed class period either by e-mail or telephone.

    • If you cannot notify the instructor in advance, bring a note from a doctor or other professional to the next class meeting.

    • Illnesses and emergencies pertain only to the student, not to the student’s family, friends or others.

    • If you must miss class for an official university activity, you should make arrangements with the instructor BEFORE the missed class.  Appropriate documentation is required.

    • Notified absences (i.e. you notify the instructor before the event) count as one-half absence.  Excused absences (i.e. you bring a note from a doctor or other professional) will not count against you for the first two; after that, each excused absence counts as one-half absence.
 • Unexcused absences will be scored on a sliding scale, as shown here.

    • You are responsible for all material presented in the class, even during an excused absence.  You should get class notes from another student for all class sessions you miss.

    • It is in your interest to provide the instructor with written notification (e.g. note or e-mail) or documentation for any missed class.  It is risky to simply tell the instructor and expect him to remember.


(4) Class discussion is an important element in this course

    • The purpose of the discussion is to provide you with an opportunity to practice thinking skills in a safe environment.

    • In discussions, you are encouraged to explore ideas presented in the readings and lectures, to think about and apply concepts, and to develop arguments and evaluate evidence.

    • You must demonstrate appropriate respect the opinions and ideas of other students.  If you repeatedly show disrespect for other students, you will be asked to leave the classroom.

    • Class discussions are NOT a time to chat with other students about topics not related to the course.  Talking privately with other students while the rest of the class is trying to carry on a discussion is disruptive, bothersome, and disrespectful to other students and to the professor.  If you repeatedly talk out of turn, you will be asked to leave the classroom.

    • It is acceptable (and encouraged) to disagree with the perspectives of other students, but you should phrase this to show disagreement with the idea or opinion, not with the person presenting the idea or opinion.

    • Please make sure that all pagers, cell phones, etc. are turned off during class time.  If your phone or pager repeatedly interrupts class, you will be asked to leave the classroom.

    • Any work missed by a student that was asked to leave the classroom cannot be made up under any circumstances.


(5) You are expected to comply with all academic standards and ethics as defined in the DSU Bulletin and Handbook

    • You are expected to do their own work in this course.  Plagiarism and other forms of cheating will NOT be tolerated.

    • Click here if you are unsure what constitutes plagiarism.  The DSU Library's "Plagiarism Prevention: A Guide for Students" is also a good resource.  If it is still unclear, see the instructor.  IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO UNDERSTAND THESE GUIDELINES.  If at some point in the semester you are suspected of committing plagiarism, pleas of “I didn’t know what plagiarism was” will not be accepted.

    • The sanctions for plagiarism are outlined on the web page linked above.  Make sure you are aware of these BEFORE you submit any work in this class.


(6)  DO NOT bring cell phones or other portable communication devices to class during quizzes, exams, or in-class assignments.  If the instructor sees a cell phone or other device during a quiz, exam or in-class assignment, your work will be collected immediately and you will be asked to leave the classroom.


(7) Appropriate accommodations will be made for students with medical problems or diagnosed disabilities.  Have Dr. Richard Houston at the Reily Health Center (846-4690) contact the course instructor to make arrangements.


Course Outline:

Class meets at 6:00 pm unless otherwise indicated.





Week 1:  Introduction to Sustainable Development

Aug. 22

Review Syllabus


What is Sustainability?


Sachs & Reid (2006)

Week 2:  The Birth of the Environmental Era

Aug. 29

Meet at 7:00 pm

Discussion on Readings 1:
The Price of Modernity I


Silent Spring, ch. 1-8
Video 1:
On the Edge ...A Wake Up Call



Week 3:  Defining Sustainable Development

Sep. 5

Discussion on Readings 2: The Price of Modernity II

Essay on
Video 1 Due

Silent Spring, ch. 9-17

Teaching on Research 1:
What is Sustainable Development?

Teaching on Research Discussant

ToR Articles:
Hopwood et al. (2005); Parris and Kates (2003)

Week 4:  A Role for the United Nations in Sustainable Development

Sep. 12

Meet at 7:00 pm

Policy Discussion 1:
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm 1972) and Earthwatch

Policy Discussion Leader

Teaching on Research 2:
Land and Sustainable Development
Teaching on Research Discussant ToR Articles:
Dale (1997),
Slides; Lima et al. (2006)

Week 5:  A Strategy for Sustainability

Sep. 19

Policy Discussion 2:
World Conservation Strategy

Policy Discussion Leader

Handout: IUCN/UNEP/WWF (1980)

Discussion on Readings 3:
The Environmental Impulse
View the Slides Book:
History of Environmental Politics,
ch. 1-5






Week 6:  The Brundtland Commission

Sep. 26

Discussion on Readings 4:
Globalizing the Terms of Sustainable Development


Our Common Future
, ch. 1-6

Video 2:
Earth on Edge I



Week 7:  Envisioning Sustainable Development

Oct. 3

Discussion on Readings 5:
Envisioning the Outcomes of Sustainable Development

Essay on
Video 2 Due

Our Common Future
, ch. 7-12
Video 3:
Earth on Edge II



Week 8:  The Rio Conference


Oct. 10

Policy Discussion 3:
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio 1992)

Policy Discussion Leader;
Essay on
Video 3 Due

Teaching on Research 3: Natural Resources and Sustainable Development

Teaching on Research Discussant

ToR Articles:
Nelson (1996); Pauly, et al. (2002)

Week 9:  Agenda 21


Oct. 17

Policy Discussion 4:
Implementing Agenda 21

Policy Discussion Leader

Discussion on Readings 6:
Environmental Engagement

History of Environmental Politics,
ch. 6-11

Week 10:  Economy and Sustainable Development


Oct. 24

Teaching on Research 4: Work and Sustainable Development

Teaching on Research Discussant

ToR Articles:
Portney (2002); McEvoy, Gibbs and Longhurst (2000)

Video 4:
Prophets and Loss







Week 11:  Education for Sustainable Development

Oct. 31

Teaching on Research 5:
Education and Sustainable Development
Teaching on Research Discussant

ToR Articles:
Bonnett (1999); McKeown and Hopkins (2003); Haigh (2005)

Discussion on Readings 7:
Campesino Pedagogy

Essay on
Video 4 Due

Campesino a Campesino, ch. 1-3

Week 12:  People to People Approaches to Sustainable Development

Nov. 7

Video 5:
Sustainable Futures
Discussion on Readings 8:
Campesino Politics
Campesino a Campesino,
ch. 4-6

Week 13:  The Johannesburg Conference

Nov. 14

Policy Discussion 5:
World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg 2002)

Policy Discussion Leader

Video 6:
NOW with Bill Moyers
Essay on
Video 5 Due

Week 14:  Community, Population and Sustainable Development

Nov. 21

Teaching on Research 6:
Community and Sustainable Development

Teaching on Research Discussant

ToR Articles:
Michaelidou et al. (2002);
Glasmeier (2005)
Population and Sustainable Development Young (2005)
Discussion on Readings 9:
Environmental Perspective
Essay on
Video 6 Due
History of Environmental Politics,
ch. 12-17

Week 15:  Building Sustainable Development in Bolivar County, MS

Nov. 28

Group Project:
The groups from SOC/COD 521 will present the findings
from their group projects to the class and visitors


Additional Resources:

Club of Rome/Limits to Growth

International Institute for Sustainable Development

National Academy of Sciences Environmental Issues

United Nations Division for Sustainable Development

United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972)

United Nations Nairobi Declaration (1982)

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio, 1992)

United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002)

UNWSSD Health Links

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

UNFPA "The Day of 6 Billion"

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

WBCSD Sustainable Health Systems

World Health Organization - Protection of the Human Environment

WHO - Regional Office for Europe, Health Case Studies

Worldwatch Institute - State of the World

Readings Course
Learning Opportunities & Grading Policies and