For much of recorded history, humans have been aware of their interactions and their effect on the environment. More recently, scientists have begun studying and monitoring our earth's changing climate. In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission, as part of its aims to unite countries in pursuit of sustainable development, defined sustainability as "meeting the needs of the present without comprising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (United Nations).
Sustainability is a rich topic with many factors and layers. This guide will explore sustainability in the lives of St. Kate's students, including information about sustainability academic, community and campus resources, and personal resources for student life.
Three Pillars of Sustainability
Many sources recognize three main pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social. These are the areas in which action is needed to create a sustainable future. The Environmental Protection Agency's sustainability primer explains these pillars and six broad topics that relate to each of them in more detail.
Credit: Mark Fedkin. Adopted from the University of Michigan Sustainability Assessment [Rodriguez et al., 2002]
The three pillars do not exist independently of each other, but are all related. The figure above shows different areas of sustainability and how the pillars interact with each other. True sustainability occurs at the intersection of the three pillars.