ASU workshop tackles questions surrounding the transition to a sustainable future

Peter Schlosser

There is near unanimous consent that we need to transition to a sustainable future. The real question is, how do we do so?

In an effort to address this vital question, Arizona State University’s intellectual network the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes (CSPO) held an open workshop titled “What Will It Take to Transition to a Sustainable Future?” on January 22. The workshop was held at the Barrett & O’Connor Washington Center and it brought together leaders from universities, businesses, government and civil society to discuss potential solutions to the critical, complex challenges of sustainability and the future of our planet.

Peter Schlosser, vice president and vice provost of the Global Futures Laboratory and director of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, led the main discussion about achieving sustainability.

“A lot of attention is on climate, but sustainability goes beyond climate, which can be a polarizing topic,” Schlosser said. “If we’re just using it to polarize discourse, it’s counterproductive.”

Sander van der Leeuw, another distinguished sustainability scientist in the ASU Wrigley Institute and foundation professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, agrees. Leeuw expressed a need to communicate more broadly about sustainability to the general public, as opposed to focusing on policymakers, businesses or nonprofits. According to Leeuw, collaboration among groups and movements will be important for long-term solutions.

“We’re not just dealing with a climate problem — we’re dealing with a societal problem,” van der Leeuw said. “And we have the elements for a solution but no clear expression of a collective vision where people can flock.”

CSPO is aimed at enhancing the contribution of science and technology to society’s pursuit of equality, justice, freedom and overall quality of life. CSPO creates knowledge and methods, cultivates public discourse and fosters policies to help decision makers and institutions grapple with the immense power and importance of science and technology as society charts a course for the future.