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Political Economy, Technological Innovation and Values

Spring 2013 Dream Course

In the context of conflicts about sustainability between environmental concerns and development of the political economy, what or should be the role of technological innovation in achieving a sustainable quality of life in the developed and developing world?

Sustainability is sometimes said to be a value that is essential to dealing with dilemmas about the environment and development. Other values seem to be relevant to spelling out sustainability. Taken together, all these are the major values we examine in this course in judgments about political economy - the mutually interactive combination of politics and the economy - and technological innovation.

When values and technology intersect, people everywhere must manage these dilemmas to live better lives.  Treating sustainable development as a value-based approach to development and the political economy, the course will lay out some possible choices and solutions.  In this course, we argue the need for student and citizen active engagement in identifying and critically examining certain values.

To frame the dilemma, we will focus on answering the following question:  What major assumptions about values, and how can we critically examine values involved in sustainability in political economy, and in technological innovation? Our answer depends on a deepened account of the value of environmentally sustainable development.

We take as our overarching conceptual framework, the paradigm of Sustainable Development. While traditionally defined by the Brundtland Report (Our Common Future, 1987), we wish to go further and elaborate on the very concept as being a values-based philosophy. Sustainability itself is a value and an economic imperative. It assumes intergenerational equity and the ability to consume the earth’s finite resources in a way that is renewable and equitable across nations and peoples. The capture of resources by the rich and powerful, in an extractive, non-renewable way results in the sorts of problems manifested by climate change, and dysfunctional societies all over the world. The political economy can be viewed as an expression of the success or failure of sustainability, and Government systems and policy as the operational aspects of such systems.  Accordingly, Development when linked to Sustainable, assumes the collective value of people, equity and social harmony in the approach to the use of natural resources, where technological innovation and education clearly underpin both. 

The seminar is complementary and open to students and members of the public.

Contact Dr. Mistree at if you wish to be added to the official email list where you will get the latest updates about the course.

Seminar schedule

  • Seminars (daytime lectures) in Price 2030 from 10:30 a.m. - noon.
  • Public Lectures (evening lectures) in Devon Energy Hall 130 6:30PM at 6:30.


Professor Farrokh Mistree Director, School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering  (405) 306-7309

Professor Edward Sankowski Department of Philosophy, Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences.  (405) 325-0321

Aban Marker Kabraji Asia Regional Director of IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature

To Enroll

OU undergraduate and graduate students of any major can enroll in the course: AME 4971/5971.001.

Those interested in a three-credit Philosophy can request enrollment in PHIL 4990 Independent Study, or PHIL 5990 Independent Study, and will be required to do additional work. Contact Dr. Sankowski more information.