A Sound of Thunder

Here is our first weekly assignment for the Spring 2018 Sustainability Colloquium! It is an interdisciplinary course that is embedded in our Western Civilization program; accordingly, we’ll read and analyze a wide variety of literature from the humanities, the natural and social sciences, and the business community.

What is the common theme that is embedded in all of these works? It is our effort as a civilization to secure a sustainable future. You’ll perceive this theme in the following readings for this first week of class.

On Wednesday, January 17th, we’ll begin by reviewing our course syllabus and expectations. Then we’ll discuss the Save The Blue Frog case that resides on the web site of our course blog, and that serves as the heart of our course material. We’ll return to this case throughout the semester to illustrate our key concepts and apply our best practices.

We’ll also begin our review of the Integrated Framework on Wednesday. This paradigm, known as the Octopus Model in colloquial parlance, is the contemporary universal framework of sustainability management and reporting.

On Thursday, January 18th, we’ll discuss our first advance reading assignment. Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder is a short story that addresses our civilization’s struggle to anticipate and manage the long term consequences of our current decisions. Such challenges continue to stymie our attempts to address issues like climate change.

The Bradbury story introduced the concept of the butterfly effect. It later emerged as a key principle of the mathematical discipline known as chaos theory.

A Sound of Thunder is a copyrighted work that was published in the June 28, 1952 issue of Collier’s magazine, and then in the 1953 book The Golden Apples of the Sun. It is often assigned in high school classes as an effective example of creative writing, but we will address it as a work with historical, philosophical, and theological implications.

A local school district appears to have obtained the right to post the text on its web site within a broader writing assignment. You are welcome to download it from its site, and to read its text on pages 222 through 236, although you should avoid reading any of the content that is relevant to the school district’s assignment.

Please read A Sound of Thunder in advance of Thursday’s session. And please be prepared to discuss how the business organization in the story might implement the Octopus Model.

Finally, you may wish to begin reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It is a full length novel that extends the themes of Bradbury’s short story; you can download the (not copyrighted) text in its entirety from the Gutenberg web site.

If you find it difficult to locate these texts, please let us know. We look forward to welcoming you to the course on Wednesday!