Sustainability Science

A Multidisciplinary Approach

image of Sustainability Science
Sustainability science is an academic discipline that emerged in response to threats to the sustainability of the global environment. Its purpose is to help build a sustainable society by developing solutions to climate change, the exhaustion of resources, ecological destruction and other environmental crises that threaten the future of humanity. Sustainability science seeks comprehensive, integrated solutions to complex problems and a restructuring of education and research that spans multiple disciplines. It demands the development of policies that protect the natural and cultural diversity of different regions and promotes the physical and economic health of their inhabitants. This volume offers approaches to the development of a transdisciplinary perspective that embraces natural, social and human sciences in the quest for a sustainable society. It also strives for a global perspective while incorporating the wisdom and experience of local societies.



Science and technology for society

Sustainability science presents a dilemma to scholars, decision-makers and practitioners worldwide. On the one hand, there is increasing recognition of the need for a new way to address complex contemporary problems that threaten the sustainability of planet Earth. On the other, there is confusion in scientific communities as to how to organize research to meet these threats head-on with the urgency that they demand (Kauffman, 2009). In recent years, activity has increased in support of the development of sustainability science as an academically established field, including the creation of academic posts, the development of curriculums, opportunities for scholarly publication in peer-reviewed journals, and the establishment of degree programmes in sustainability science. A 2009 Special Feature edition of the journal Sustainability Science on “Education for Sustainable Development” illustrates the progress that is being made to prepare the next generation of scientists, engineers and decisionmakers with the tools they need to address twenty-first-century challenges (Takeuchi, 2009). The addition to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the United States of a section devoted specifically to sustainability science also points to this progress, as do efforts to build networks of scientists around the world to address sustainability issues. These issues are complex problems that lie at the intersection of global, social and human systems and thus transcend disciplinary and geographical boundaries.


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