Sustainability: A Multifaceted Concept

Did you know that global coal production continues to rise sharply?

Did you know that people as diverse as Baruch Spinoza, a seventeenth century philosopher, to Ian McHarg, a scottish landscape designer, have all contributed in some way to the complex debates about sustainability?

Sustainability: Concepts and Timelines

In this graphic, we’ve attempted to map that learning inspired by an idea by the artist Amir Djalali and the architect Piet Vollaard called The Complex History of Sustainability.

We’ve also compiled a timeline of ideas, authors, artists and architects, which shows the diversity of themes within material articulations of sustainability. Running alongside are two timelines. The top tells the story of Dunston Staiths whilst the bottom timeline shows key events in the development of global sustainable development.

It’s interesting to see that despite the demise of the coal industry which had resulted in Dunston Staiths, global coal production continues to soar and, with it, increases in the global temperature.

In the middle is a loose characterisation of interlinked trends, ideas and people based on a schema devised to show that there are many sustainabilities, and, pragmatically, that no one impulse can be privileged. It’s a large pdf file so please zoom in and out to read it. We welcome comments too!

Sources of Information

The infographic was drawn by Graham Bowden of the University of Manchester. Information was compiled by Angela Connelly from:

Demos, T.J., 2013. Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology. Third Text, 27 (1): pp. 1–9. .

Hay, P., 2002. A Companion to Environmental Thought. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

International Institute of Sustainable Development. 2012. Sustainable Development Timeline.

Manns, E., 2000. Carrying Coals to Dunston: Coal and the Railway. Oakwood Press & Ernest Manns, Usk.

Morice, C. P., J. J. Kennedy, N. A. Rayner, and P. D. Jones (2012), Quantifying uncertainties in global and regional temperature change using an ensemble of observational estimates: The HadCRUT4 dataset, J. Geophys. Res., 117, D08101, doi:10.1029/2011JD017187.

Rutledge, D., 2011. Estimating long-term world coal production with logit and probit transforms. International Journal of Coal Geology, 85, pp. 23 – 33

Shaw, S., 1990. A pictorial essay produced to commemorate the National Garden Festival 1990. Gateshead MBC Education Department, Gateshead.