Part 2: Issues in Sustainable Development



Culture means different things to different people. The thousand year-old traditions, religious practices, or history of one’s ancestors or the current values in the streets where you live can all be considered culture. Indeed, they are only some of the aspects that make up the culture in which you live. Beyond your customary experience of human society are the cultures of others. Those other cultures also affect your life in visible and invisible ways. Understanding and respecting the cultures of others is essential to building a civil society.

Main Idea

Understanding the cultural forces at work in Africa

Key Concepts

      • Indigenous culture
      • Intercultural dialogue
      • Cultural tolerance


Knowledge of

      • traditionally disadvantaged indigenous and nomadic peoples
      • gender equality

Understanding of

      • cultural liberty
      • identity politics
      • the connection between cultural diversity and biodiversity

Ability to

      • explain how social, economic, and environmental decisions are often determined by cultural attitudes and traditions
      • describe how the concerns of indigenous peoples can be supported by outsiders

Core Readings

  1. Cultural Liberty in Today’s Diverse World, pages 1-5
    Cultural liberty as an element of human well-being and the challenge of identity politics (5 pages)
  2. Gender in Africa
    An overview of challenges facing African women (5 pages)
  3. Cultural Diversity and Biodiversity, pages 7-8
    Similarities and connections between preserving cultural diversity and biodiversity (2 pages)
  4. Indigenous’ People Fight for Inclusion
    Discusses disagreement over how to apply the term “indigenous” to African cultural groups and the vulnerability of nomadic pastoralists (5 pages)

Sustainability Strategies

  1. Uganda: Winning Support from the Custodians of Culture
    Description of UNFPA project in Uganda to eliminate female genital mutilation by working in cooperation with traditional cultural and religious leaders
    (5 pages)
  2. Eliminating Poverty and Violence Against Women: Lessons and Experiences
    Creating structures to end violence against women (3 pages)
  3. Indigenous Disaster Early Warning, Preparedness, and Response
    Indigenous methods of observing nature and organizing communities save lives and property by predicting and preparing for floods, storms, earthquakes, and other natural disasters (2 pages)
  4. Indigenous Disaster Prevention and Mitigation
    Indigenous agricultural and building methods for floods, droughts, earthquakes and storms (1 page)
  5. Tunza Magazine, “Living with the Nahua,” pages 5-6
    Students advocating for indigenous peoples in Latin America (2 pages)

Supplemental Readings

  1. Cultural Diversity and Biodiversity, Speech by Helen Clark,
    pages 15-17
    Links between biodiversity, cultural diversity, and globalization (3 pages)
  2. Socio-Economic Dominance of Ethnic and Racial Groups – The Africa Experience, pages 1-10
    Review of African ethnicity and current ethnographic patterns (10 pages)

Assignment Questions

  1. Culture: What is cultural liberty and why is it important to defend it?
  2. Interconnections: Culture & Biodiversity: Explain and interpret the following quotations from the reading Cultural Diversity and Biodiversity.
    • “Cultural diversity should be regarded as a powerful guarantee of biodiversity”
    • “Cultures and human beings alike encounter an irreplaceable part of their humanity in others.”
  3. Culture:  Summarize the debate over the recognition of “indigenous” peoples in Africa.