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School of Social and Political Science: Undergraduate study


Messages from the Lecturers

Neil Thin“I first developed an interest in sustainable development by reading Fritz Schumacher's classic "Small is Beautiful" in the 1970s, which inspired me to go to India to help set up a small-scale conservation and development initiative in south India helping vulnerable and socially excluded Irula "tribal" people to form a cooperative which would improve their livelihood as snake and rat catchers while also rendering their occupation more profitable, dignified, and sustainable. Since then, I've worked on environment and development programmes in India, Indonesia, Nepal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Peru, and Brazil, while also working with global agencies such as WWF, UN-FAO, UK-DFID, and the World Bank to strengthen their approaches to social and environmental progress.

I have developed the strong view that benign approaches to development must begin by identifying pathways to wellbeing, and then modify those pathways as necessary to promote equity, sound environmental management, and fairness to future generations. In other words, to have anything worth sharing and sustaining, developers must first have a clear sense of what a good human life consists of. Wellbeing and happiness are too often left out of debates on social justice and sustainability, but on this programme we try to ensure that they are at the heart of all teaching and learning.”

Dr Neil Thin, Senior Lecturer

John Macinnes“My interest in sustainable development focuses on understanding trends in global population. World population growth is often seen as a threat to sustainability, but such a perspective often misunderstands the dynamics behind population growth.

The major driver of growing global population is not an increase in births - world fertility has been falling for many decades now - but falling mortality. Improvements in public health, such as safer water supplies and basic sanitation, mean that people are living longer. This is progress. Of course population 'aging' brings its own challenges, which is one of many questions this degree explores”

Professor John MacInnes

Sustainable Development