professor
Adela J Gondek

Apr 2021

This is an amazing class, and I recommend this to anyone, not just sus dev majors. The class is all about understanding sustainability through an ethical lens. This sounds super broad bc it is (that's not a bad thing though). The structure of the class acknowledges the wide range of topics, and approaches them one by one. You don't really need a background in sustainable development for this either, as she explains everything from the ground up in very easy to understand terms. Professor Gondek is the sweetest teacher ever, and does a great job of teaching this otherwise abstract material. The only real assignments for this class were weekly discussion posts (based on readings that everyone loved) and one paper. It isn't just one of those "fun but I didn't learn much classes" though: she does a great job of connecting with students and conveying the material in digestible terms. The class is very well structured, and prof Gondek promptly uploads all study materials to courseworks. She is also very vigilant when it comes to helping students 1 on 1, which not many professors care for. You can tell that she enjoys teaching the course material, and that she truly wants her students to better their understanding of the importance of assessing sustainability through an ethical lens. I genuinely believe that everyone that has a hint of interest in sus dev should take this class. It opens your eyes to the foundations of corporations, applied sustainability, current policy, and solutions being imposed to take action on sus dev.

Nov 2014

This was absolutely the best course I have ever taken, and Professor Gondek was the best professor I have ever had. I recommend this class to anyone—not even just sustainable development students (though to be honest, I feel that this class should be mandatory in the sustainable development program). In Ethics of Sustainable Development, you will learn about the ethical fallacies of unsustainable development and their causes, as well as the idea that to be sustainable, development must be ethical. The ethical fallacies include human hegemony, consumerist modernity and utilitarian technocracy. These terms are technical but they encompass concepts that define our lives. You will learn a framework that you can use to judge "why" certain decisions and assumptions in human civilization are ethically problematic, beyond just the gut feeling you get that something is wrong when you hear about a firm displacing villagers from their land or a scientist saying that technology can solve any problem. Everyone would benefit from this course—science, economics, political science, and engineering majors. Unfortunately this is the only way I can describe this class, as the bulk of the experience you get is from Professor Gondek's unbelievable ability to break down complex issues in a comprehensible and interesting manner; no one ever skipped class, and conversations outside of class always pertained to just how amazing Professor Gondek is. I dare you to go to her office hours just to ask her a simple question; I promise you that you will end up staying with her for hours talking to her about life (such has been the case with everyone who has ever had her as a professor). I even heard a rumor that she is the only Columbia Professor to consistently get 100% ratings every semester on university-wide class evaluations. Take this class!