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Faculty Roundtable on Social Aspects of Sustainability

Research responses to the second call of the 2014-2015 Sustainability Research and Training Program (SRTP), an agreement between the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) and Diamond Developers (DD) of Dubai, UAE, will be discussed. The vision of the program is interdisciplinary, collaborative and engaged. The focus of this call is understanding, measuring and promoting the social conditions and experiences entailed in building, living in, and maintaining communities which are designed for sustainable living.

Oct 14, 2014
from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM

Andrews Conference Room, 2203 Social Sciences and Humanities Building

Some ideas for research questions include the following, which are meant to be suggestive but not exhaustive:

  • Social and cultural factors, as well as demographic factors, significantly influence sustainability behavior, practices, and principles. Who are the projected and likely residents of TSC? How do the various cultures of their likely countries of origin inform their views of sustainability? How does the culture of UAE inform the Emirati residents’ views of sustainability? How do the likely personal profiles of residents affect their commitment to sustainability (e.g. educational attainment, gender, profession, income, age, marital status, religion, family size, etc.)?
  • How can developers and community leaders motivate and facilitate sustainability practices among different demographic groups e.g. -- men, women and children? What mechanisms and guiding principles (e.g. incentives, reward systems, performance dashboards, discounts, reminders, competitions etc.) could be put in place to support such programs and principles? Consider, in your research, the likely social composition of The Sustainable City (TSC), which currently is heavily international, non-Emirati.
  • In what ways could TSC promote sustainability social practices beyond its community? What outreach educational approaches will most positively impact sustainability practices in Dubai? And how can TSC influence sustainability practices and principles in the UAE as a whole, as well as other Middle Eastern countries? Take into consideration the cultures and environments in these countries.
  • What role does community cohesion play in fostering sustainable behaviors? What community activities might most effectively be implemented in TSC, given its likely social composition? (Some examples: farmer’s market; carpooling; childcare; playground; food sharing; sustainability competitions; website for residents; competition; neighborhood and community events; skills development programs.)
  • TSC is interested in applying a bottom-up approach towards community governance in order to allow residents to have input and influence on how their community operates. Forming a committee would be one method of providing this platform—among other methods. What would this committee’s role be in promoting sustainability practices? What role should Diamond have in this committee? What other impacts could this committee have on the community? That other forms of community-based governance might be considered and tested? Lessons from other sustainable communities, regionally or globally, with established participatory governance processes could be drawn upon for this research.

Desired Deliverables/Project Examples:

  • Critical reviews of existing sustainability literature.
  • Critical assessments of social aspects of sustainability in TSC.
  • Insights to inform sustainability assessment and decision support tools for TSC and other sustainable communities.
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