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What Do We Owe the Future: Good for me, good for us?

April 23, 2013

In March, CEES welcomed a host of panelist to discuss the intersection of economic interests, the environment, and the future of human community. The panel included Larry Rasmussen, Professor of Social Ethics Emeriti (Union Theological Seminary), Julia Agyeman, Professor of Urban Environmental Policy and Planning (Tufts University), and Sabine O’Hara, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability & Environmental Sciences (University of the District of Columbia). The panel was moderated by Wake Forest University Provost Rogan Kersh and included a Q&A time from students and a live Twitter feed.

The forum opened with each panelist responding to traditional understandings of self-interested economies from the perspectives of their unique fields. The panelists then looked at the pressing needs of our current economic and ecological crises to offer some insights that may point the way forward. “Can capitalism be fully ecologized?” Rasmussen pondered. The conclusions of the panelists leaned ‘no.’

But in surprising ways, the panel pointed to ways in which communities and local economies are paving a way into the future through communal sharing.  Julia Agyeman offered Zip Cars and neighborhood tool sheds as examples of how local communities are embodying the values that can bolster economic and ecological values. Communal acts such as these not only serve the self-interests of the individual but also better the community and the common good.

Read here for a detailed write-up from the Office of Sustainability.