California Studies Association

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Miriam Greenberg: “What on Earth is Sustainable?”

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CSA steering committee member Miriam Greenberg has a great piece out in the latest issue of Boom: A Journal of California that takes on questions of sustainability, proposing a new field of inquiry that she dubs “Critical Sustainability” studies. The project is part of an ongoing effort Greenberg began, which has included a year-long workshop with University of California faculty and graduate students, and which is soon emergent on a new web platform that takes on the challenge of creating a critical-sustainabilities dialogue.

Greenberg, professor of sociology at UC Santa Cruz, writes: “Sustainability is a futuristic, even utopian, project par excellence. As with all utopian projects, sustainability offers a vision of the future to galvanize us to imagine our world otherwise and engage in the work necessary to change it.

Photo by Mona Caron, via

Sustainability asks us to define those things of greatest value in our present that ought to be sustained in order to achieve this utopian vision of the future. Simultaneously, it forces us to consider those things that are not of value, and should not be sustained. Sustainability is thus a striking example of the power and limits of utopian ideals.

This dream of a sustainable future, in all its complexity is deeply rooted in California. Sustainability is now a global discourse. But California has played an out-sized role over the last century in promoting the discourse, as well as in embodying sustainability in the eyes of the world. This has especially been the case in California’s most famous green zone, the Bay Area, which has been at the forefront of eco-oriented lifestyles, cultural experiments, and politics for over a half century. …”  Read more here….. BOOM0304_08_Greenberg-1



One thought on “Miriam Greenberg: “What on Earth is Sustainable?”

  1. We are slowly destroying the things that we deem unimportant to our happy survival. Little do most of us realise, that without these things, we cannot exist for very long at all. Thank you for sharing

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