Antioch University New England’s MBA in Sustainability  is honored to launch this blog for the broader community. Our goal is to use the blog to continue discussions for all our classes, create a forum to share interesting articles and news, and for students to process the latest research in sustainability. We encourage the public and faculty and students from other institutions to contribute to this conversation.

Currently, our blog is focusing on the evolution of the field of sustainability.  There is a great debate going on about what  we mean by sustainability.  What is sustainability?  How do we define sustainability?  What are the boundaries of  sustainability?  What is and what is not sustainability?

Please join us as we discuss sustainability by sharing your thinking, articles, reflections and insights.  Let the conversation begin.

If you have questions about the blog, please feel free to contact me :
Polly Chandler
MBA in Sustainability


8 Responses to About

  1. Casey says:

    What is sustainability?

    Sustainability is an amorphous idea that can take many shapes, follow many paths and can lead us to many outcomes depending on your place in this world. From a corporate lens, sustainability can take the form of a marketing technique. For an NGO working in developing countries, sustainability can be getting the right supplies to the right people. For environmentally focused individuals, sustainability can mean holding onto your soda bottle until you find a recycling station.

    What is missing from all of these examples, however, is scale and often when we look at a subject too closely we lose the forest in the trees. Thinking about sustainability for me is really about approaching the subject from a faraway place, refocusing the lens to take a look at the components and then zooming back out again. The process should not end here, however, as we should also spin the topic, flip it on end, submerge it in water and re-examine it to see how it has changed since our initial view.

  2. cameren says:

    What is sustainability?

    Above all else, sustainability, I think, has to be about willingness to change and lean into discomfort. Traditionally, sustainability implies consistency, stability, predictability, etc., but our explorations this weekend show something different.

    Embracing complexity is crucial to beginning any conversation about sustainability. Only when we understand that different systems most likely require different definitions can we start the discussion about identifying problems and challenges. Accepting the mutability of the world of sustainability right now can actually help us progress forward – we are less likely to get hung up on one specific area and stall in our discussions and problem solving.

    However, how do we, as socially and environmentally minded people, ensure that real systems thinking and theories of strong sustainability are being used in the approach of every organization, if we are allowing for different definitions? That is the element that is going to require patience and steady plugging on by those of us who have been “enlightened” in this school of thought. That’s our job as Antioch students, I suppose – we need to be the conversation starters in our work places and communities. At the root of it all, as always, is education and outreach.

    So, relishing in the productivity and innovation that tensions bring out needs to be our MO. This is the divergent thinking piece that Orr talks about. The spiritual, emotional, and place-based feeling in each of us is really what sustains us, personally, in the end.

  3. Duck says:

    So most people have all come into this place of becoming more aware of sustainability. Almost everyone is effected by it in their lives, whether they have any altruism involved in the effort or not. So here we are then, needing to continue on with our lives and our business, but it’s no longer done – even if only in small ways – in an “as usual” manner. There has been shift across almost every sector and many demographics. I think the only thing that divides us is whether it feels like an imposition or an opportunity.

    In almost every case, I think that sustainability represents the need for a wide angle lens in how we conduct business – whether it is the business of our lives or work. Just as we saw at the Trustees of Reservations today, they have had to say that their old, more exclusive, maybe even myopic model was not going to serve them well anymore, because really conservation and land preservation is about and for entire communities, not just the people who can afford it, or have the time to enjoy it.

    Sustainability is being honest and admitting what it really takes to make an organization work well in and for its community, setting goals toward that end, and actively guiding people through the process to achieve it.

  4. Melinda says:


    Can any one set of indicators paint a clear enough picture to define sustainability? Is it possible to use metrics until we understand the definition, or do we take the aggregate, average, or partial results from a number of indicators, then compile and package them until we have a result that is marketable an easy to understand? And at that point, do we truly understand whether or not we are sustainable, are the results only interpretable in the eye of the beholder?

  5. drewlac says:

    What is sustainability?

    This can be challenging word to define since it can be considered a “sponge” word. This term has the ability to mean different things to different people. It can also be interpreted differently based upon scale of scope and industry sector. Furthermore, there is also different maturity levels of sustainability; its it weak or strong. Putting the these difficulties of its definition aside for a moment, sustainability is definitely the the ability to endure in a responsible manner.

  6. Noah says:

    What is Sustainability?

    “Living and working in ways that ensure health and vitality of our communities and planet, not just for today, but for generations to come.”- the trustees of reservations.

    This definition offers insight into three critical pillars of sustainability as it relates to the relationship between nature and people.

    First, sustainability is inherently about people and their relationship with each other and the natural world. Human resources and their ability to collaborate, coordinate and communicate are essential pillars to building equitable, healthy vibrant communities.

    Secondly, sustainability is about the environment, natural capital. Humans relly on healthy ecosystems and access to clean air, water, food and resources for survival. A poor environment, with stresses to any of these natural elements creates poor living conditions and stress on human ecologies. Natural capital must be maintained in order to provide basic needs for healthy cooperative ecosystems.

    Thirdly, financial capital. Economies offer an inherent connection between people, planet, and economies. A health economy, relies on healthy planet and communities.

  7. Ally says:

    Sustainability is….
    The teenage years of human civilization have come to close. After the two centuries of the industrial age, a time of intense and unprecedented growth and ‘rebellion’ against nature, humans as a collective species are having to embrace the end of adolescence. With that comes choosing to take responsibility and ownership for ourselves, and to accept our role in the ‘family’ of Earth. Its time to share center stage. What is next? How do we want our lives to be now that we are understanding the fragility and complexity of our lives? This is one way to look at where the discussion of sustainability stems from. A sustainable life is the vision of the future, and strategies along the path to our ‘adult life’ as humans coming more fully into their humanity.

  8. Justin, MBA Candidate says:

    What is Sustainability?

    Defining sustainability can quickly fall into the realm of one’s emotions where descriptive words are often lost. Think for a moment what it is to describe the word “Love.” Several philosophical meanings attempt to render down the logic behind the meaning. Poets have dedicated their lives to creating an image of the meaning of love. When we reach this level of description one can only begin to understand the meaning through experience. Our experiences have shown us where we are headed, in the natural world, if we choose to live a life of depletion rather then learning to provide abundance. Sustainability touches on our emotions, bridges the cultural gaps and can be more easily accepted as “just is.” Ignoring what “just is” or attempting to observe, a description of what “just is” can swing the natural tendencies of sustainability off balance. A structure off balance will not stand forever.

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