April 16, 2013 – Michael Maniates, a professor of environmental science and political science at Allegheny College, was among a select group of contributors to speak today in Washington, D.C. at the launch of the Worldwatch Institute’s book “State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible?” The book is the latest edition in the institute’s State of the World series.
Maniates’ chapter on “Teaching for Turbulence,” which begins the book’s final section, offers a critique of environmental studies and science programs in U.S. undergraduate institutions today and charts a way forward.
“With few exceptions, undergraduate programs of environmental studies and science in the United States fail to provide students with a workable roadmap for democratic social change in service of sustainability,” Maniates says. “Instead, students graduate believing that change happens via individual lifestyle changes, and a healthy dose of crisis — and both ideas are dead, dead wrong.”
Maniates and his co-authors – prominent scientists, policy experts and thought leaders – attempt to restore meaning to sustainability as more than just a marketing tool indicating a practice or product slightly less damaging than the conventional alternative. In “State of the World 2013,” experts define clear sustainability metrics and examine various policies and perspectives, including geoengineering, corporate transformation and changes in agricultural policy, that could put us on the path to prosperity without diminishing the well-being of future generations.
If these approaches fall short, the final chapters explore ways to prepare for drastic environmental change and resource depletion, such as strengthening democracy and societal resilience, protecting cultural heritage and dealing with increased conflict and migration flows.
As a member of the Allegheny College faculty since 1993, Maniates has committed his career to studying and writing about global patterns of consumption, overconsumption and consumerism; low consumption/high prosperity paths to development; and underexplored routes of citizen involvement in contemporary environmental struggles.
He founded and coordinates the Project on Teaching Global Environmental Politics, an electronic network of more than 475 scholars, educators and activists focused on global environmental affairs. He is the co-founder of the Advisory Board of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security, which focuses on interdisciplinary policy analysis and advocacy.
He holds a B.S. (Phi Beta Kappa) in conservation and resource studies and an M.A. and Ph.D. in energy and resources, all from the University of California at Berkeley. He was a Fulbright scholar to India, a recipient (with Tom Princen and Ken Conca) of the Sprout Award for the best book in international environmental politics for “Confronting Consumption” (MIT Press, 2002) and academic dean of the spring 2007 Semester at Sea program. In 2000, Maniates received Allegheny College’s Thoburn Teaching Award for Innovation and Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
His best known publications include “Environmental Studies: The Sky Is Not Falling,” published in BioScience; “Individualization: Plant a Tree, Ride a Bike, Save the World” and “In Search of Consumptive Resistance: The Voluntary Simplicity Movement” in “Confronting Consumption”; and “Of Knowledge and Power” in his edited volume “Encountering Global Environmental Politics” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003).
“State of the World 2013” is available from Worldwatch’s website, the Island Press website and Amazon and other online booksellers.