Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development

Note: Please visit this site for information on the revised edition of this textbook.

“A breathtaking, transdisciplinary account of the possible future of sustainable development in a global world with an emphasis on far-reaching government actions to promote the needed transformations. At a moment when it is hard to see a positive way forward, this work gives me hope!”

Stanley N. Katz, Director, Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Princeton University

Textbook wins the “Business” category at the 2012 Green Book Festival

This book grew out of courses taught over the past decade at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge University, and the Harvard-Cyprus International Institute for the Environment and Public Health, now associated with the Cyprus University of Technology. More recently, the course was offered at Virginia Tech after I moved to Virginia in 2009.

The book is intended to serve the needs of policy-makers and researchers as a rich compendium on the many aspects of sustainable development, as well as a textbook that would ideally be taught by a transdisciplinary team.

Parts of the book could also be incorporated into existing conventional curricula. For example, Chapter 2 (in Part I and in its expanded form that is posted below), “The Emergence of Sustainable Development,” is relevant for courses in history, sociology, and political science. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 (Part II) would be valuable in courses on economic growth and development in economics departments, schools of management, and international relations programs. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 ideally fit into courses on innovation and industrial policy in both engineering and management schools. Chapters 9 and 10 (Part IV) and Chapter 11 are dedicated to national, regional, and international environmental law and could be taught in law schools, international relations programs, political science, and schools of public health. Chapter 12 is an expansive treatment of international finance for development and the environment suitable for schools of management and departments of economics and political science.

Thus a number of selected chapters from this work could easily fit into several traditional courses in different departments. Teaching the entire book offers an opportunity for a transdisciplinary course that cuts across departments and schools, a trend in many forward-looking programs.

Prof. Nicholas Ashford recently created five short videos in which he explores many of the core issues we raise in the textbook .

The best order to view these five video clips are 4, 5, 1, 2, and 3.

“This astonishing book is a terrific summary of informa­tion for those seeking feasible alternatives to the pursuit of infinite growth.”

Dennis Meadows, co-author of The Limits to Growth


The book is divided into six main parts:

Part I The Multidimensional Concept of Sustainability

Chapter 1: Concern for a Global Future

Chapter 2: The Emergence of Sustainable Development [See the related Primer]

Part II Economic Development, Globalization, and Sustainability

Chapter 3: Economic Development and Prosperity: Current Theory and Debate

Chapter 4: Globalization: Technology, Trade Regimes, Capital Flows, and the International Economy

Chapter 5: Globalization and Sustainability

Part III Industrial Policy and the Role of the Firm in Pursuing Sustainable Development

Chapter 6: The Importance of Technological Innovation

Chapter 7: Organizational Innovation and Learning: The Role of the Industrial Firm in Achieving Sustainable Development

Chapter 8: Government Policies to Foster Innovation, Economic Growth, and Employment

Part IV National, Regional, and International Efforts to Advance Health, Safety, and the Environment

Chapter 9: Government Intervention to Protect the Environment, Public/Worker Health and Safety, and Consumer Product Safety

Chapter 10: Regional and International Regimes to Protect Health, Safety, and the Environment

Part V International Trade and Finance

Chapter 11: Trade Regimes and Sustainability

Chapter 12: Financing Development

Part VI Strategic Policy Design for Sustainable Transformations

Chapter 13: Pathways to Sustainability: Co-optimizing Economic Development, the Environment, and Employment

“The main driving forces that have sent us in an unsustainable direction are the same forces, but differently fashioned and designed, that could be used to reverse course and improve the state of the world”

– Ashford and Hall

Papers Related to the Book

Reviews of Book

  • Stone, R. (2013) Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State, N.A. Ashford, R.P. Hall. Yale University Press, New Haven and London (2011), xxvi, 752 pp. $90, £75.00 9780300169720 2011, Journal of Socio-Economics, Volume 46, October 2013, Pages 78–79,
  • Susskind, L. (2013) Technology, Globalization and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State by Nicholas A. Ashford and Ralph P. Hall, Anthem EnviroExperts Review, May 23, 2013,
  • Sivaraman, M. R. (2012) Technology, Globalization and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State. International Journal of Environmental Studies, Volume 69, Issue 4, pp. 670-675,
  • Kallis, G. (2012) Review of Technology, Globalization and Sustainable Development Transforming the Industrial State. Ecological Economics, Vol 1, pp. 177–178,
  • Common, M. (2012) N.A. Ashford, R.P. Hall, Technology, Globalization and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State (2011) Yale University Press, New Haven. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. Volume 4, September 2012, Pages 81–83,
  • Duroy, Q. M. (2012) Ashford, Nicholas A.: Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State. CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, (June 2012): p. 1929.
  • Vergragt, P. J. (2012) Nicholas A. Ashford, Ralph P. Hall, Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development (2011) Yale University Press. Journal of Cleaner Production, doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2011.11.001 .