In the first of four podcasts on sustainability at Appalachian State University, Drs. Shea Tuberty, Todd Cherry and Dinesh Paudel, each engaged in research and teaching around economics, equity or environmental issues, share opinions on what’s hopeful—and what’s not—for our university, the Boone community, our state and our world.
Megan Hayes: Appalachian has a long-held commitment to sustainability, but what does this mean really? Sustainability has so many meanings, and these meanings are contextual, they’re multifaceted and they’re evolving. So today, we’re joined by three faculty experts to discuss what sustainability means at Appalachian State University. Dr. Dinesh Paudel is an assistant professor in the Department of Sustainable Development. Dr. Shea Tuberty is an associate professor in the Department of Biology whose research interests are in ecological biology with a focus on water quality issues. And, Dr. Todd Cherry is a professor in the Department of Economics whose research and teaching interests include environmental and natural resource economics, regional economics and public economics.
So I want to start with a baseline question. Utilizing your research specialty areas, your daily conversations with your colleagues here and across the world, what and how you teach in the classroom, how would you answer the question what is sustainability?
Dr. Shea Tuberty: So for me it’s about water quality and clarity and how that relates to human development and land use changes around places like the southern Appalachians where we usually enjoy super-clear water, ubiquitous water—people take it for granted here and how those changes effect the use of water.
Dr. Dinesh Paudel: Rather than thinking about what is a proper and accurate definition, we should think about how this concept came about in the first place. What was the history it wanted to achieve? And secondly, what are the different possibilities, potential it can bring in? What are the possible changes it can actually bring in for us as a society, ecology, and planet as a whole?
Dr. Todd Cherry: I think that one of the fundamental issues that underlies the different definitions of sustainability and the different perspectives is this idea of how things change over time and what is being sustained and provided to the next generation. What’s important? What’s irreplaceable? What do we want to preserve and conserve? And what are our options for improving things? And I think that’s the real tension.