Dissertation Defense Announcement - Oscar G. Arreoloa - April 20

Date: April 20, 2015
Location: Natural Resources RM 320

Dissertation Defense Announcement

“Learning from Theories and Practice of Sustainability: In Search of Cohesion” 

Oscar G. Arreola
Department of Community Sustainability
9 a.m., Monday April 20, Room 320 Natural Resources 
The first 30 minutes of this seminar are open to the public.

 Committee members:

  • Pat Norris (Chair)
  • Frank Fear
  • Robby Richardson
  • Paul Thompson


This dissertation began from the general question: what is sustainability? This complex question was addressed in three separate papers. Sustainability, generally, is commonly thought to have emerged from the conceptualization of sustainable development, especially after the Brundtland Report thrust the topic into the world political arena and raised research interest in the topic. The first paper traces the evolution of development theory in the move to sustainable development. The second paper reviews the construction of sustainability in the fields of agriculture, development and business and provides an analysis of whether and how these different constructions have contributed to a common understanding of sustainability. The analysis leads to conclusions about the role of values in motivations for implementing sustainability practices and the evidence for a set of minimum standards that such practices should meet. Finally, the third paper looks at whether efforts to implement sustainability on the ground follow from what academics are offering. Many communities are working on measuring their progress toward sustainability using sustainability indicators. An analysis of sustainability indicators reported by 20 communities across U.S. is conducted using a formal framework that evaluates indicators according to type, values-orientation, and the dimension of sustainability addressed. The results suggest some important differences between communities’ interpretations of sustainability and theoreticians’ interpretations in the literature.