Culture and Sustainable Development

In today’s lecture, we have looked into Brian-sensei’s confessions of a culture critic, culture and sustainability, what culture is, and how exactly culture relates to sustainable development. This lecture is from INTA4813 (Energy, Environment, and Policy), and the remaining class time after the lecture was used for group exercise to discuss on the culture and sustainable energy security.

Brian-sensei started off his lecture by introducing a paragraph from his book “Japan under construction: Corruption, politics and public works (1997)” to remind us the difficulties of defining culture and its influences on people’s behaviors. “Amorphous”, “hyperopic” and “tautological” are introduced as common problems with culturalist approaches. With those in mind, we have discussed culture and sustainability.

Speaking of culture and sustainability, it is important to remember that society and culture are strongly tied together. As we learned previously, sustainability consists of economical, environmental, and social factors (Triple bottom line). The social factors of sustainability include working conditions, health services, education services, social justice, community and culture. Therefore, culture is part of sustainability, and it is important to understand the social context when we assess sustainability in a certain region.

The linkage between culture and sustainable development can be found in a similar approach. Development, which was used to be regarded as the progress of modernization and focused primary on economics, has now been recognized as improvement to meet the current needs without depleting the natural resources and improvement in the well-being of all people in a given unit. In other words, sustainable development should focus on not only economic but also environment and social aspects.

In the rest of his lecture, Brian-sensei reviewed on cultural context that we have been discussing throughout JSPSD2018. We have looked at how zone of acceptance differs because of cultural differences, what determined NIMBY (not in my backyard), how inclusivity, social justice and equity can be achieved, and  how high and low context culture differs. We do not necessary have an answers to those questions, but there are all important concepts to understand as background for their group project as they were asked to compare Tokyo and Atlanta.

The last few hours were used for INTA4744 (Global development capstone) project. Each group was required to present a brief concept of their project to Brian-sensei and Vince-sensei. Students presented their topic, focus and targeted audience, and consulted with sensei on how they would do a research and present their work in their presentation as well as their report.

Here are the topics that each group is working on for their Capstone project.
-Water security
-Sustainable tourism
-Rural depopulation
-the risk on the Olympics
-Accessibility to Transportation in Japan

Rural depopulation group
Sustainable Olympics group
Transportation accessibility group
Sustainable Tourism group









All groups seemed to be having a good start with their group members and making a progress to come up with their solutions. I cannot wait to hear more about their research in 2 weeks!

Schedule of next week
7/23 (Mon): INTA4813 exam review + group work
7/24 (Tue): INTA4813 exam and group work
7/25 (Wed): group work


Written by Kanaha Shoji
Georgia Tech Graduate (2018) in Environmental Engineering, working as a research assistant for JSPSD2018