Social Progress and Sustainability Series (10 Titles)

Social Progress and Sustainability Series (10 Titles)


This 10-volume series is a unique primer for students and educators interested in how people around the world experience everyday life. Highlighting the issues of shelter and resources, nutrition and health, education and economic opportunity, and political rights, this first-of-a-kind series incorporates new measures of prosperity, particularly the Social Progress Index of the Social Progress Imperative. An inspiring introduction by Social Progress Imperative Executive Director Michael Green accompanies each volume. While introducing young readers to the pressing concerns of life and sustainable development in every region of the world, the series includes social studies topics and pertinent coverage of core history

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Product ID: 11582

Africa: Middle, Western and Southern

View Product | ISBN: 9781682654729 | $10.95 | Paperback

The middle, western, and southern regions of Africa have experienced more than their share of turmoil, civil wars, corruption, and disease. Each country has a rich and interesting history that has contributed to its current human rights status. Governments and economies contribute the most to each country’s social progress. Civil wars have led to thousands of displaced people, making it hard to gather the monetary and human resources needed to build infrastructure for transportation, water treatment facilities, and schools.

In many of these countries, addressing health care issues has been especially challenging, especially in those countries battling outbreaks of Ebola and Aids. However, these challenges haven’t prevented some progress from being made when it comes to social progress.

People’s basic needs, such as nutrition, access to medical care, and food security are improving in most of the countries in these regions. While more progress still needs to be made, it is clear steps are being taken toward further social progress.

Africa: Northern and Eastern

View Product | ISBN: 9781682654736 | $10.95 | Paperback

The countries of northern and eastern Africa have fought hard over the years to become independent countries. Because of this struggle, individual rights and freedoms as well as standards of living have suffered in many of these countries. The economies of these countries often dictate the social progress they have made. In some counties where urbanization has increased, access to safe drinking water and medical care have also increased, for example.

Since some of the countries in northern and eastern Africa are considered the poorest in the world, many nonprofit and governmental agencies have partnered with their governments to assist them. Some programs help them obtain food; others assist with medical resources; while still others help to provide money to fund the building of much-needed infrastructure.

Within the countries, citizens and sometimes their governments continue to work to improve their social progress, from providing basic access to education and resources, to improving tolerance for those of other faiths, backgrounds, and sexual orientation.

Central America and the Caribbean

View Product | ISBN: 9781682654743 | $10.95 | Paperback

Central America and the Caribbean may be best known as world-class tourist destinations, but in spite of being top vacation spots, the countries of these tropical regions still suffer the lingering effects of Europe’s plantation-style colonization including income inequality, corrupt leadership, and discrimination against native peoples and the descendants of slaves.

The regions are home to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the richest. Rich or poor, most countries have high rates of poverty and many areas are controlled by organized criminals and violent street gangs. Only two of the twelve most populated countries have poverty rates below 25 percent and only one scored a high level of social progress in the Social Progress Index.

Challenges ahead include addressing extreme poverty, eliminating government corruption, stopping the spread of increasingly violent criminal organizations, and working toward ecosystem sustainability in the face of population growth and climate change.

East Asia and the Pacific

View Product | ISBN: 9781682654750 | $10.95| Paperback

The societies of East Asia and the Pacific include some of the world’s most technologically advanced as well as the least developed. Nations in the region have withstood colonialism and its legacies as well as many modern wars. Measures of social progress range from the very high to the very low. On measures of physical health, people in the region generally fare well, but personal rights and freedoms vary greatly from place to place. From China to New Zealand, it is a region of contrasts, with a variety of approaches to bringing the best of life to the most people.

Countries that have existed for thousands of years and others whose independence goes back only to the last century strive to meet current challenges. With tremendous cultural and ecological diversity among and within countries spread across vast distances, challenges ahead include protecting the rights of minority peoples and charting economic development that preserves the environment.


View Product | ISBN: 9781682654767 | $10.95 | Paperback

In Eurasia, two countries have dominated the political, economic, and social landscape for centuries—Russia and Turkey. By sheer landmass, Russia is the largest country in the world and for decades after World War I, it was even bigger as the leader of the Soviet Union. This dictatorial, predominantly Christian empire included Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, and Ukraine. Other areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro were under Soviet influence. Often in conflict with Russia, Turkey stood apart with its democratic government and mostly Muslim population.

In the early 1990s, the Soviet Union broke up, leading to several independent nations that, for the most part, have shifted to more democratic governments. While Russia and Belarus have elections, however, the process is highly controlled so that opposition parties cannot gain power.


View Product | ISBN: 9781682654774 | $10.95 | Paperback

The countries of Europe are as diverse as they are prosperous. Of the top 15 countries in the Social Progress Index, 11 are in Europe. The people generally enjoy the benefits of democracy and free market economies and some of the highest standards of living in the world.

Europe has a long history of conflict and war, and lay in ruins by the mid-20th century after two world wars. In rebuilding the devastated continent, the leaders tried to end the death and destruction once and for all by banding together. In 1993 the dream became a reality with the creation of the European Union, a political federation and common monetary zone.

Still a work in progress, the European Union faces challenges in environmental issues, treatment of immigrants and minorities, unemployment, coordinating a common defense, and balancing between the wealthier nations of the north and the poorer countries of the south and former Soviet Union states.

Near East

View Product | ISBN: 9781682654781 | $10.95 | Paperback

When it comes to social progress and sustainability, the Near East faces many challenges. In this region where three major religions—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—originated, Islam is the mostly widely followed. Religious differences have caused tensions throughout the region’s history—even among those of the Islamic faith. Religion is a driving force in the governments, and some leaders have used religion to justify authoritative control—limiting democracy, individualism, and freedom. In recent years, millions of people have fled political violence in hope of better lives elsewhere. Nonetheless, some countries are progressing toward tolerance and greater personal rights.

The Near East is also characterized by great economic differences, from very rich oil-producing countries to very poor nations experiencing political instability. Wealth distribution is very uneven, as in many parts of the globe. Moreover, fresh water is scarce in this part of the Earth. Because of these religious, economic, and environmental issues, the Near East is weaker in terms of social progress and sustainability compared to other areas, but if balance and tolerance can be maintained, this area, which is rich in culture and religious history, may thrive and prosper.

North America

View Product | ISBN: 9781682654798 | $10.95 | Paperback

North America is vast in area, rich in natural resources, and diverse in culture. It is divided into three of the world’s largest countries: Canada, the United States, and Mexico. All former European colonies, today the three countries have democratic governments and enjoy many personal freedoms and constitutional rights. Economically interdependent, they form a major trading bloc where each relies on imports and exports from the other two.

Canada ranked an impressive sixth in the world in the Social Progress Index. At 16th, the United States ranked lower than expected for a high-income country. With an economy only one-third the size of that of the United States, Mexico still ranked in the world’s top 50 percent in social progress.

Challenges ahead include addressing the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, improving access to basic services in rural areas, and achieving ecosystem sustainability in the face of population growth and climate change.

South America

View Product | ISBN: 9781682654804 | $10.95 | Paperback

South America is a continent of great diversity, rich natural resources, and stunning beauty. South Americans share a dramatic history of rich civilizations lost to European conquest in the 1500s. Today, the region enjoys relative political stability and economic growth, but some areas suffer from uncontrolled crime, violence, and corruption.

In general, South American countries score above the world average on the Social Progress Index. Two of the 12 countries of South America enjoy a high level of social progress; six countries have an upper-middle level; and three countries fall into the lower-middle range.

Challenges for the future include addressing extreme poverty, improving basic services for rural populations, and ending routine discrimination against people of native or African descent. As one of the most ecologically biodiverse regions on earth, the countries of South America will need to make a united effort to prevent the extinction of the more than 6,000 species of plants and animals that are currently threatened on the continent.

South and Central Asia

View Product | ISBN: 9781682654811 | $10.95 | Paperback

The nations of South and Central Asia are as fascinating as they are diverse. Ranging from the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia to war-torn Afghanistan to the tiny mountain nation of Bhutan to the world’s second-most populous country, India, the region has been shaped by millennia of conquest, population migration, and, most recently, global geopolitics. The challenges currently facing South and Central Asia, which include overpopulation, food security, environmental degradation, and the ongoing search for democracy, are as diverse as the nations themselves. However, great progress has been made in recent years, and the picture is improving. More people in this region have access to clean water, food, and education than ever before—though many challenges are still ongoing. In particular, Islamic extremist groups based in this area pose a security threat not only to the nation-states of South and Central Asia, but to the entire world.


10 Titles
Series ISBN: 9781682655535
Grade Range: 7th – 12th
80 pages each

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