Series overview

AboutSUS is a podcast where sustainability is approached using different lenses: disciplines, experiences, locations, and themes.

Sustainability is a concept present worldwide. Interestingly, its meaning is not as clear and seems to fit everything. Is it about the environment and climate change? Yes. Does this have to do with the needs and possibilities of future generations? Yes. But, overall, we think sustainability is a practice, an ethical and less utilitarian connection with the world around us, considering human and non-human wellbeing and livelihoods.

We conduct interviews and discuss experiences, concepts, challenges and themes, in a structure that entails narration and an ongoing conversation. If you are interested in exploring the different meanings and possibilities of thinking sustainably, AboutSUS is an excellent place to start your journey.

AboutSUS is produced in collaboration with Multiplied By and edited by Emilia Rubensson. These episodes were funded by the Small Projects Funding, School of Education, University of Glasgow and supported by the Sustainable Futures Global Network.

Episode notes

The question “What is sustainability?” is answered by three leading voices in the field.

Deepa Pullanikkatil, founder of Abundance, has worked with communities living in vulnerable contexts in Malawi. A key lesson learned by Deepa is that to advance sustainable solutions it is critical to understand that communities live integrated lives. Therefore, when promoting the exercise of new practices (for instance, sustainable food management), as crucial as ensuring access to resources or capacity development it is key to analyse to what extent those practices are doable within highly demanding contexts.

Mia Perry, professor of Arts and Literacies in Education, sustains that we need to explore new systems of communication and knowledge to develop a sustainable relationship with the environment. This means moving away from the text and numeracy to develop other ways of making meaning and connecting with the world around us.

Jude Robinson is a social anthropologist and has dedicated much of her research to understanding the relationship between peoples’ health and wellbeing outside of conventional health care settings. In this episode, Jude shares valuable insights concerning her studies in refugee camps and how this has shaped an approach to sustainability primarily focused on the ability of communities to make sustained positive life choices over time.

AboutSUS is produced in collaboration with Multiplied By and edited by Emilia Rubensson. These episodes were funded by the Small Projects Funding, School of Education, University of Glasgow and supported by the Sustainable Futures Global Network.

Theme music “Algorithms” created by Chad Crouch and sourced from Envato.

What does it mean to think sustainably about water or the food we eat?

Jill Robbie, senior lecturer at the School of law, University of Glasgow, reflects critically on the role law has played in facilitating a utilitarian relationship with what we call “natural resources”. Instead of ownership and property rights, Jills sustains that we should move to governance systems that allow us to consider water rights and agency.

Mo Hume, Professor of Latin American Politics at the University of Glasgow, presents the case of the Atrato river, to which legal rights were granted. Located in Colombia, this river’s history helps to reflect on what it means to understand a territory sustainably– a space where the rights of the communities intersect with those of the river. Thus, when the state failed to protect the Atrato, it also fell short of protecting the communities around it.

Anna Chadwick is a senior lecturer at the School of law, University of Glasgow, and she brings the political economy lens to this conversation. To what extent can we move towards a sustainable relationship with land or water within a system highly shaped by finance and market logic? Anna critically examines the connections between legal, economic and political structures underpinning the current environmental crisis.

Theme music “Algorithms” created by Chad Crouch and sourced from Envato.

Article music kindly provided via the Diocese of Quibdó.

This episode will be available shortly.

Podcast host and guests

Research Fellow at the Sustainability IRT, College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow.

I have a PhD in Education (University of Bristol), a Master’s in Public Policy (School of Economics, University of Chile) and a bachelor’s in Journalism. This background has informed my research interests and helped me navigate through themes, communities and contexts. I am particularly interested in understanding the exercise and limitations of sustainable practices within challenging contexts in the Global South.

From a background in Journalism, I have a significant commitment and expertise regarding a critical area: communication of research. I have co-developed media outlets to build bridges between media and academia (TerceraDosisCiper Académico) and contribute to public debates in Chile and Latin America.

Mia Perry

Professor of Arts and Literacies in Education at the University of Glasgow and co-director of the Sustainable Futures Global Network

Among some essential readings/authors/perspectives that have helped her think about the connections between sustainable futures and literacies, Mia mentioned the following:

  • Kimmerer, R. (2013). Braiding sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants. Milkweed editions.
  • Kohn, E. (2013). How forests think. In How Forests Think. University of California Press.
  • Reiter, B. (2018). Constructing the pluriverse: The geopolitics of knowledge. Duke University Press.
  • Wickens, C. M., & Sandlin, J. A. (2007). Literacy for what? Literacy for whom? The politics of literacy education and neocolonialism in UNESCO-and World Bank–sponsored literacy programs. Adult Education Quarterly, 57(4), 275-292.
  • Robinson-Pant, A. (2008). ‘Why literacy matters’: Exploring a policy perspective on literacies, identities and social change. Journal of Development Studies, 44 (6), 779–

Deepa Pullanikkatil

Co-director of the Sustainable Futures Global Network and Founder of Abundance

Deepa Pullanikkatil is co-director of the Sustainable Futures Global Network and founder of Abundance, a non-profit organization based in Malawi. To know a little bit more about Deepas’ work and the initiatives developed through Abundance please have a look at the following websites:

Jude Robinson

Professor in Health & Wellbeing and Deputy Head of the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow

When thinking about some of the key influences that have informed her approach to sustainability and the challenges faced by communities, Jude highlights Amartya Sen and share the following publications:

  • Sen, A. (1993). Capability and Wellbeing. In M. Nussbaum, & A. Sen (Eds.), The Quality of Life pp. 31-53). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Greco, G., Skordis-Worrall, J., Mkandawire, B., & Mills, A. (2015). What is a good life? Selecting capabilities to assess women’s quality of life in rural Malawi. Social Science & Medicine, 130, 69-78.

Jill Robbie

Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, University of Glasgow

Among some essential readings/authors/perspectives that have helped her think about the connections between sustainability, law and water rights, Jill highlighted the following:

Mo Hume

Professor of Latin American Politics at the University of Glasgow

Most of the conversation with Mo is informed by the Colombia River Stories. This research explores the interconnection between the history of a river, the conflict in Colombia and the perspective of communities in creating a new territory configuration built upon more inclusive and sustainable relationships.

Anna Chadwick

Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, University of Glasgow

Among some essential readings and perspectives that have helped Anna think about sustainability and sustainable development, are the following:

  • TWAIL- (Third World Approaches to International Law) – in particular the work of Anthony Anghie and Sundhya Pahuja, who both address the structural complicity of international law in conditioning extractive North-South relations since the colonial era through a ‘dynamic of difference’ that casts countries in the global North as part of a historical continuum of progress that must be emulated by countries in the South ( Anghie, Antony. Imperialism, sovereignty and the making of international law. Vol. 37. Cambridge University Press, 2007; Pahuja, Sundhya. Decolonising international law: development, economic growth and the politics of universality. Vol. 86. Cambridge University Press, 2011.)
  • Critical literature on International Development: Rist, Gilbert. The history of development: From western origins to global faith. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014; Escobar, Arturo. “Encountering development.” In Encountering Development. Princeton University Press, 2011. Dependency Theory and the theories of core-periphery in economic relations (Andre Gunder Frank; Samir Amin)
  • Critical work on Law and International Development – notably Trubek, David M., and Alvaro Santos. “The third moment in law and development theory and the emergence of a new critical practice.” (2006)
  • Marxist Economic Theory and the work of David Harvey and others on neoliberalism….Harvey, David. “The’new’imperialism: accumulation by dispossession.” Karl Marx. Routledge, 2017. 213-237.
  • Boaventura de Sousa Santos and his work on cognitive injustice and epistemologies of the South. De Sousa Santos, Boaventura. Epistemologies of the South: Justice against epistemicide. Routledge, 2015