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Professor John M. Gowdy


Rittenhouse Teaching Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences
Department of Economics
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
5204 Sage Hall
Troy, New York 12180
(518) 276-8094 (voice mail)
Fax: (518) 276-2235
E-mail: gowdyj@rpi.edu



American University, B.A. Anthropology, 1967
University of Rhode Island, M.C.P. Regional Planning, 1972
West Virginia University, M.A. 1977, Ph.D. Economics, 1980


Paradise For Sale, by Carl N. McDaniel & John M. Gowdy

The grim history of Nauru Island, a small speck in the Pacific Ocean halfway between Hawaii and Australia, represents a larger story of environmental degradation and economic dysfunction. In a captivating and moving style, the authors describe how the island became one of the richest nations in the world and how its citizens acquired all the ills of modern life. At the same time, Nauru became 80 percent mined-out ruins that contain severely impoverished biological communities of little value in supporting human habitation. This sad tale highlights the dire consequences of a free-market economy, a system in direct conflict with sustaining the environment.

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Limited Wants, Unlimited Means: A reader on Huntrer-Gatherer Economics and the Environment, Johm M. Gowdy, Author/Editor

For roughly 99% of their existence on earth, Homo sapiens lived in small bands of semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, finding everything they needed to survive and thrive in the biological richness that surrounded them. Hunter-gatherer societies appear to have solved problems of production, distribution, and social and environmental sustainability that our own culture seems incapable of addressing. Gowdy’s book examines the hunter-gatherer society and lifestyle from a variety of perspectives. It provides a brief introduction to the rich anthropological and sociological literature on non-agricultural societies, bringing together in one volume seminal writings on the few remaining hunter-gatherer cultures including, the !Kung, the Hadza, and the Aborigines. It examines the economics of traditional societies, and concludes with a multifaceted investigation of how such societies function and what they can teach us in our own quest for environmental sustainability and social equality.

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