Foundations for Sustainability: A Coherent Framework of Life-Environment Relations
Virtual seminar presented by Dr. Dan Fiscus, Research Alliance for Regenerative Economics, and Dr. Brian Fath, Towson University
Abstract: This presentation reviews key concepts in sustainability and asks deep questions about why there are so many symptoms of environmental crises present in the world today (climate disruption, mass species extinctions, nitrogen cycle disruption, ocean acidification, crises with food, energy, and water, and many more). These symptoms relate to the prevailing approach, in which we use reductionist mental models and treat living and environmental systems as if they are mechanisms. However, contrary to machines, ecological systems show much resilience and capacity to self-organize, regenerate, increase their organization and complexity, and improve their environment over time. We propose that achieving a sustainable world will require a shift in the way we approach life and life sciences. The good news is that such a shift is possible now, without the need of waiting for new technologies, and is limited only by our willingness.
Reference: Fiscus D & Fath B (2018). Foundations for Sustainability: A Coherent Framework of Life-Environment Relations. Cambridge, Massachusetts, US: Academic Press.
Dr. Dan Fiscus is an ecologist, food system researcher, and sustainability scientist with the Research Alliance for Regenerative Economics. He has written and co-written scientific articles in soil ecology, ecosystem ecology, theoretical ecology, and regenerative economics. He has co-written two books in sustainability including Foundations for Sustainability: A Coherent Framework of Life–Environment Relations (2018). From 2007 to 2012, he was assistant professor in the Biology Department at Frostburg State University (FSU) where he taught and did research in forest ecology and sustainability. From 2012 to 2016, he served as Sustainability Liaison with FSU, led the creation of the President’s Advisory Council for Sustainability, and advised students who created the Student Sustainability Fee. A co-founder and elected member of the Western Maryland Food Council (WMFC), he served as Council Coordinator from 2019 to 2020. With WMFC, Dan helps convene annual regional food system conferences and enlist interdisciplinary partners collaborating for food system change in Western Maryland.
Dr. Brian D. Fath is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Towson University (Maryland, USA) and Senior Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Laxenburg, Austria). He has published over 180 research papers, reports, and book chapters on environmental systems modeling, specifically in the areas of network analysis, urban metabolism, and sustainability. He co-authored the books A New Ecology: Systems Perspective (2020), Foundations for Sustainability: A Coherent Framework of Life–Environment Relations (2018), and Flourishing Within Limits to Growth: Following nature’s way (2015). He is also Editor-in-Chief for the journal Ecological Modelling and Co-Editor in Chief for Current Research in Environmental Sustainability. Dr. Fath was the 2016 recipient of the Prigogine Medal for outstanding work in systems ecology, and twice a Fulbright Distinguished Chair (Parthenope University, Naples, Italy in 2012 and Masaryk University, Czech Republic in 2019).