The Science of Sustainability - What it implies to ethics and politics by Dr. Shreekumar

Location and Date: 
Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 3:30 pm, LT 004


Human society has witnessed tremendous economic growth since the Industrial Revolution. Economic growth has enabled -- and even forced -- people to migrate from agriculture to non-agricultural manufacturing sector and further to the service sector. The extent of migration has been the greatest in the most prosperous countries. Economic growth is often uncritically equated with development and migration away from agriculture is seen as a sign of development. Though it is now known that we are living in an unsustainable manner, common understanding of sustainability is not enough to connect it to our lifestyles, values and aspirations. Hunger and malnutrition, though widespread in the world, are not seen as signs of an ecological crisis. There is a widespread belief even among people having some exposure to science that technology will eventually enable us to attain sustainability. It will argued that such an unqualified faith is misplaced. Technology can be a part of the solution only if it is employed wisely. Ethical and political implications of a scientific understanding of the present condition will be discussed.

About the Speaker

Dr. Shreekumar holds a B.Tech. in chemical engineering from the Karnataka Regional Engineering College, Surathkal (now NITK). After spending 6 years with ONGC he decided to study further and joined IISc, Bangalore. On completion of his PhD ar IISC, Bangalore, he joined as a faculty member at NITK, Surathkal.

He was drawn to activism while studying at IISc,first for communal harmony, then for environmental sustainability and environmental justice. He quit his job at NITK after 4 years and left for Sampoorna Kranti Vidyalaya, Vedchhi, Gujarat, a small institution engaged in preparing activists for building a non-exploitative society. Though still associated with it, he moved back to Karnataka in 2004 and taught part-time for nearly 10 years at NITK, Surathkal.

For the last eight years, he has been living in a village called Nakre, 30 km from Udupi trying to build a commune of people making a transition to a lifestyle consistent with principles of equality, environmental sustainability and environmental justice.