America was founded on the optimistic belief that its beautiful and bountiful land could provide present and future generations with endless opportunities for economic success and personal happiness—in other words, “The American Dream.” And for many, this dream came true. But from sea to shining sea, the legacy of the American Dream has also forever altered the communities and destinies of indigenous peoples, subsistence farmers, landless immigrants, and the diversity of wildlife and ecosystems that make up the American landscape. If growth has made America great, it has also contributed to a globalized culture of endless expansion and superconsumption at odds with the finite resources of the natural world and the rights of all citizens. Fifteen years into the twenty-first century, is an American Dream that continues to equate progress with prosperity, democracy with development, and natural resources with revenue a sustainable reality?

The Precarious Alliance sustainability symposium on “Land and the American Dream” will bring together a cross-disciplinary spectrum of scholars and scientists, business leaders and conservationists, policymakers and environmental advocates, land-use planners and farmers, and social justice activists, among others, who are interested in examining how competing visions and versions of The American Dream have contributed to an ongoing “precarious alliance” among competing economic, social, and environmental concerns. And though there are no easy answers, the symposium will be dedicated to exploring the variety of productive solutions that can contribute to a new, sustainable American Dream.


Delaware Valley University’s current President, Dr. Joseph S. Brosnan, established The Precarious Alliance as an interdisciplinary forum dedicated to exploring the challenges associated with sustainability, especially the problems posed by adapting human networks and addressing the effects of environmental degradation, economic instability, and social inequalities in local communities and global settings.

Committed to promoting cross-disciplinary perspectives, civil dialogue, innovative thinking, and practical solutions, DelVal has since hosted a series of sustainability symposia devoted to such urgent and essential topics as Food (2010), Water (2012), and Energy (2014), drawing together a diverse array of scholars, politicians, business leaders, and environmentalists, as well as featuring such prominent keynote speakers as Marion Nestle, Maude Barlow, and Bill McKibben. 


Located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, Delaware Valley University is an independent four-year college where students, faculty, and staff energize one another, across multiple disciplines, to tackle the most important issues of our time, in traditional academic settings and with real-world, hands-on experiences. Our entire community cultivates experience, intelligence, and imagination to inspire new thinking, debate emerging options, and create new initiatives.

Founded in 1896 by Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf as the National Farm School, DelVal has developed into a diverse and academically rigorous institution that offers more than twenty-five undergraduate majors in the life, physical, and agricultural sciences, humanities, and business, as well as six master’s programs, a doctoral degree, and a variety of adult education courses. At DelVal, we honor the motto of our founder—“science with practice”—by utilizing the thousand acres of beautifully maintained land that make up our campus as a functional, open-air learning environment for many of our disciplines.