The Goddard Graduate Institute was happy to host Ralph Lutts, EdD, as one of our visiting scholars for the August 2015 residency of the Individualized MA, Social Innovation and Sustainability MA, and Health Arts and Sciences programs. Lutts is faculty emeritus of Goddard College, having taught for over 20 years in the IMA, Sustainable Business and Communities, and undergraduate programs. An environmental historian whose work bridges science, environmental studies, literature and popular culture, Ralph has taught environmental history and literature at Hampshire College; American history, environmental history, and Appalachian history at Virginia Tech; and presented many classes, talks at workshops at conferences and in various communities. He is author of The Nature Fakers (Fulcrum, 1990) and editor of The Wild Animal Story (Temple University Press, 1998). His publications include a paper, “Like Manna from God,” on the history of the American chestnut trade in southwestern Virginia. He also worked as a Naturalist in Hampshire College’s Outdoors Program, directed the Outreach Division of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, was director of the Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton, MA, and curated the Boston Society of Natural History collections at Boston’s Museum of Science. He earned his doctorate in Environmental Education from the University of Massachusetts/ Amherst, and a BA in Biology at Trinity University.
In his Goddard College profile, Lutts writes, “I am an environmental historian who has studied the history of sustainability, semi-subsistence living in the Appalachian Mountains, and environment and popular culture, and who is now examining the history of violence in appropriating natural resources from African Americans. In addition, I am a naturalist who delights in helping people to read the stories in the landscapes around them. I believe that effective efforts to promote sustainability work on the levels of both personal practice and public policy. The ultimate solutions to our problems lie in a complex mix of natural and social science approaches to understanding, personal practice community mobilization, and transformations in social values and spiritual roots. These solutions also need to respect and reflect the rich diversity of cultural values and practices throughout our nation and around the world. Each person can contribute to this effort in ways that work best for themselves.”
At the residency, Ralph presented, “A Brief History of Sustainability in the USA,” which he described this way:
Sustainability is a hot topic today, but it is not a new one. Its history goes back to ancient times. In this workshop we will briefly examine sustainability as practiced by native peoples and ancient civilizations. (This will also include examples of their failure to live sustainably.) We will then examine beginnings of sustainable practices in Europe, as well as in the United States in the 19th century. Moving closer to the present, we will review the rise of the present movement later in the 20th century, the conflicts between the concepts of sustainable development and sustainable communities, and the interplay between sustainability as personal practice and social policy.