The social dimension of sustainability and its complex relationships to the economic and the ecological dimension are presented. This includes social consequences of ecological aspects such as health and material wealth, and of trends or political interventions such as biofuels, one-child policies, eco-taxation, or similar. Additionally, consequences of wealth on sustainable development in an ecological sense are outlined, including topics such as consumerism and conspicuous consumption, needs, happiness and life satisfaction, and environmental psychology. A special focus will lie on social sustainability and on indicators of the progress of societies beyond the GDP (such as the Happy Planet Index). At the end, the role of social capital for self-organized regulation on resource consumption as described, e.g., by Elinor Ostrom will be discussed.
The course gives an overview over social issues in the context of sustainable and societal development and economic growth and introduces concepts of social sustainability. At the end, students shall know about various interdependencies between sustainable development and social conditions, including aspects such as health and happiness, and about current international efforts to measure the progress of societies by indicators beyond the GDP and about strengths and weakness of these new approaches. Participants shall be able to find such measures on the corresponding websites and to reflect their benefits critically. Finally, cases shall be dealt with where and under which conditions self-organization of social-ecological systems may help to protect the environment.