Green Engineering: Engineering Sustainability Through Critical Synthesis
In the course of writing this paper I will try to show how the new content of sustainability science is integrated into the patterns of an emerging Green Engineering (GE) cognitive praxis. A historical and linguistic overview of “technology” will intent on pointing to the non-inherency of the demarcation between the “technical” and the “societal,” reinforcing my outlook on GE as a type of contemporary green technoscience. Next, I will maintain that the conundrums and various dualisms that accompanied the development of environmentalism have, ipso facto, strongly marked the troublesome case of “sustainability” and “sustainable development,” as those container concepts made their way in science and engineering. Indeed, the technoscientific nature of GE will be highlighted via the discussion of a new set of socio-epistemic conditions that make the very existence of a GE cognitive praxis currently possible. Further, the same GE cognitive praxis will be depicted as urging a triple-level change in the conception of sustainability through the working of what I am calling here a critical synthesis. Ultimately, the thrust of my argument will be that the critical synthesis ―what makes GE an altogether different enterprise from any former route to the quest for sustainable development― consists in the derailment of sustainability from the tracks of a single perspective. GE is claiming its novelty and originality by adhering to the triple bottom line; that is through the blurring of the distinction between the three prevalent narratives of efficiency, equity and ethics.
Keywords: Green Engineering, Sustainability Science, Green Technologies, Narratives on Sustainability
Doctoral Student, Department of Science and Technology in Society, Virginia Polytechnic School and State University