Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

John Nolt

Committee Members

Jon Garthoff, Paul Erwin, Adam Cureton


To make society sustainable our institutions must also become sustainable. As an institution, health care contributes to environmental degradation. While unsurprising, contributions to environmental degradation increase risk factors for disease and illness, effectively frustrating the goals of medicine. To find ways to make health care sustainable I begin by reviewing the literature on sustainability from within environmental ethics and two previous attempts at envisioning sustainable health care in order to learn what to include in a vision of sustainable health care. Then I examine problems specific to making medicine sustainable by investigating how sustainability might affect the principles of medicine. Next I develop ways to address the concerns of upholding the principles of medicine under a system of sustainable health care, centering on inequality and its negative impact on the sustainability of society and health care. Finally I envision ways to make health care sustainable by applying a schematic definition of sustainability adopted from the work of John Nolt that is consistent with the key strategy of reducing inequality.

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