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What Is Sustainability?

Takeshi Ito, KASA Sustainability

KASA Sustainability discussion series: "What is sustainability for us?" (2020)

In summer 2020, KASA Sustainability members engaged in a series of discussions regarding "What is sustainability for us?" Sustainability is a loaded term and may mean so many different things for various people. First, we explored diverse ways in which the term sustainability is used by different actors such as governments, corporations, universities, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations. After our initial exploration of sustainability, we realized that the definition of sustainability is strongly shaped by actors who use it.


Then, we thought it was important to understand who we are and what social responsibility we have. KASA Sustainability members learn and work at Sophia University, a higher educational institution. Our responsibility in society thus informs that faculty, staff, and students ought to work together to educate next generations of global citizens who can be part of solutions for global challenges such as poverty, hunger, inequality, and climate change.


For us, three areas are particularly important--Education and Research, Practice and Infrastructure, and Global & Community Engagement.


At the heart of these interrelated areas is the core belief that humans are not in control of nature. It is essential to decenter humans in thinking about and creating a harmonious relation in social-ecological systems. Sustainability is a condition that allows the sustenance of life-making by both humans and non-humans.


When we think about sustainability, we have an unconscious tendency to think that sustainability is a condition of the future rather than the present and that sustainability can be achieved by something that we don't have now but will have in the future--e.g., scientific and technological breakthroughs.


For us, sustainability is concerned with neither the future nor things; rather with the present and being. KASA Sustainability is concerned with the present condition of human-nature relations and with what we can do now.


Sustainability can be realized when we recognize and celebrate the complex interdependence between humans and nature that promotes biodiversity.


Through global and community engagement, KASA Sustainability seeks to create an arena where faculty, staff, and students work together and learn to be sustainable beings.


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