Cornell humanities professors and students discussed the present and future implications of emphasizing sustainability on Thursday as part of the “Big Ideas in Humanities” series. Prof. Karen Pinkus, romance studies, identified inconsistencies in sustainability’s usage and definition. She said the goal of sustainability is to meet “the needs of the present, without compromising the abilities of future generations to meet their own needs.”
She explained that this view of sustainability introduces the future as something that must always be considered in the present, yet operates within its own timeframe. “The time of sustainability is certainly out of joint with geological time,” Pinkus said. “The time of sustainability fails to synchronize with the temporality of carbon based life forms compressed underground.”
Prof. Sara Pritchard, science and technology studies, discussed her research on light pollution and the campaign for dark night skies.