Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Name

Education Specialist (EdS)


John Van Buren


The conflict between our economic markets and environmental needs is going to be the biggest problem in implementing sustainable trends in our society as we proceed toward the sustainable development goals. Although it may seem intuitive and logical that sustainable development goals are not only good but a complete necessity, the implementation and application of sustainable innovations is seen differently by people. For instance, people living in poverty or low income areas see sustainability as a beacon of hope to promote social inclusion, equality and a healthier living environment through cleaner air and water solutions. Creating jobs to implement these ideas will help develop these areas out of poverty. Many big businesses and industrial firms see sustainability as nothing but a nuisance, creating more standards and protocols which in turn cost more money for their companies. Sustainability reduces capital gains and decreases their numbers on financial statements, making the company less appealing to investors. Not all those who oppose sustainability do so for economic agendas however, some ideologies, libertarianism for instance, see sustainability as a way of curtailing personal liberties and bringing about a global liberal agenda.

Exploring the history of economic development since the dawn of industry, the quantitative data surrounding the changes to the various systems of earth due to this brief economic history, and the policy which acted as the blueprint, are all important to understanding how and why unsustainable development has gotten earth to the state it is today. International treaties, national policy and political ideologies are all what need to be exposed in order to understand the multifaceted problem and solution which lies within (economic, social, environmental etc.). When looking at the situation through the lens of neoclassical economics, it is hard to see how these sustainable development goals are even possible without the proof of economic gains (or prevention of costs). But if people learn to look at these problems and goals from a mutual standpoint of bettering the human condition in all ways, they will see that it is not only socially just and environmentally sound, but economically viable as well. The power of sustainable development is that it provides synergies between these factors, not tradeoffs. It was easy for people to assault climate change as a hoax/myth, too expensive to bother with, yet the concept of sustainability has been explored and developed so thoroughly in every manner that even if climate change is nowhere on one's importance, sustainable development is still a rational economical, political and social agenda that requires the entire world's attention.