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Sustainable Living
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  Program Directors

  Lonnie Gamble

  641-472-7000 ext. 2291


  Travis Cox

  641-472-7000 ext. 3306

  Department Chair

  David Fisher

  641-472-7000 ext. 2139


Deep Sustainability

Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without diminishing the ability of future generations to do the same. Yet even among those who accept this definition there is significant disagreement about what it even means. What constitutes a legitimate need? What does it mean to develop? How far does our obligation to meet the needs of the present extend and how far into the future?


The early stages of sustainability were concerned mostly with making changes on the margin of the existing system to “make it sustainable”; that is, reforming our current agricultural, transportation, and energy systems by increasing efficiency and substituting non-sustainable materials and energy with more sustainable alternatives. A deeper look often shows that the existing system is inherently exploitative of people and nature, and that no amount of tinkering (efficiency or substitution) will make that system sustainable.


While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with efficiency or substitution, Deep Sustainability recognizes that there is a difference between doing things right and doing the right thing. Shallow sustainability focuses on doing things right, on the means we use to accomplish an end. For example, a shallow sustainability approach to our transportation crisis focuses on creating more efficient cars which use alternative fuels. A Deep Sustainability approach addresses the ends, on creating a high quality of life where people are able to meet their needs close where they live so that the need for automobile transportation is reduced, if not eliminated. We thus strive to give our students the ability to implement efficiency and substitution solutions in the short term while at the same time working from a more deeply sustainable, transformative, radical system-redesign perspective that will be much more effective in the long term.


Inner Sustainability


We believe that developing sustainable businesses, societies, and communities is dependent upon those entities being comprised of highly developed individuals. The great systems thinker Russell Ackoff said that “development is an increase in competence, in the ability to satisfy your needs and desires, and those of others.” Development means doing more with less. It means creating a higher quality of life while consuming fewer resources. Sustainability is about creating a thriving world in which we lead rich, productive, and fulfilling lives — without depleting the environment or ourselves. To meet our responsibility to current and future generations, we must connect with our own inner nature. MUM’s Consciousness-Based education and Transcendental Meditation technique expand your awareness and help you realign to act in harmony with nature.

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