Social sustainability

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The concept of social sustainability should be thought of as a cultural and societal ideal which can be moved toward through design. It is best characterized by its ability to foster and sustain social interactions, as well as, create equitable opportunities for participation between the built environment and all of its users. By creating environments which do not disadvantage or disable its users; the environment becomes more socially sustainable.

It is important to understand that the definition of what makes an environment socially sustainable can evolve as fast as the technology used in the processes of reaching for this form of sustainability. Designs and technology which may seem to be state of the art today could become outdated by advances in technology tomorrow. A good example of technology evolving behavior can be seen in the advances in communication technology. The internet is one prime example of a technological revolution which has completely changed the civilized world. We can expect unimaginable changes in technology to again reshape our future and the way we view the world. The principles set forth in this thesis should not be drastically affected by changes in technology. Creating principles which can transcend time and cannot be easily dated was a major goal of this undertaking. For this reason the guiding principles of this thesis will not be prescriptive designs but rather about the prescriptive methods for the creation of designs.

In order to create guiding principles for achieving socially sustainable college campuses, this thesis will explore what it takes to create environments which promote social interaction and equitable participation. Since social sustainability can be thought of as the outcome of other processes, it is important to explore the other processes which contribute to more socially sustainable environments. It is here where guiding principles for creating socially sustainable college campuses will be derived.[1]


  1. Grimble, Michael. (June 2009). Social Sustainability and Collegiate Campuses. SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, New York