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The Menominee Theoretical Model of Sustainability

In 1992, the United Nations held the Conference on Environment and Development (“Earth Summit”) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to discuss the global issues of environmental protection and socio-economic development. The concern at the time was whether these two issues were compatible or were considered two opposing forces.

In 1993, a joint project developed by College of Menominee Nation and Menominee Tribal Enterprises sought to develop and offer a story of sustainable development based off of the Menominee history of sustainable forestry. The work done through this project led to the development of the SDI theoretical model of sustainability.

This theoretical model conceptualizes sustainable development as the process of maintaining the balance and reconciling the inherent tensions between the various dimensions of sustainability. Each dimension is understood to be dynamic, both in respect to its internal organization, and in relationship to each of the other five dimensions of the sustainable development process. The model takes as its point of departure that change within one dimension will impact other dimensions in an ever-unfolding diffusion of responses to change, whether externally driven or inherent to the dynamism of a specific dimension. It is this interactive process, which bounds the research agenda of the SDI and situates both the academic programming and scholarly inquiry of Institute initiatives. Topics which reflect the interface of any two or more dimensions of sustainability are central to the Institute’s interests, and are engaged through independent, collaborative, and sponsored research and dissemination of information.

A full description of the model history and use in education, community planning and participatory research is available in a special edition of Sustainability Science. The paper was developed by SDI and its collaborators and can be accessed through the following link.

Presented by Jasmine Neosh, this video gives an overview of the Menominee Theoretical Model of Sustainability. This model, through its six dimensions, acts as a theoretical guide for the decision making practices that lead to a community living sustainably. Jasmine presents the history that lead to the creation of the model and also walks through each dimension and what it represents.