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Sustainability Science

A Multidisciplinary Approach

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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.

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Exploring sustainability science: Knowledge, institutions and innovation

Global sustainability concerns long-term constraints on resources, including, among others, food, water and energy. The challenge of sustainability is the reconciliation of society’s development goals with the planet’s environmental limits over the long term (Clark and Dickson, 2003). The new field of sustainability science now being developed aims at understanding the fundamental character of interactions among natural, human and social systems (Clark and Dickson, 2003; Kates et al., 2001; Komiyama and Takeuchi, 2006). Sustainability science concerns various domains, including nature (for example, climate, oceans, rivers, plants and other components of the natural environment), technology (for example, machinery, chemicals, biotechnology, materials and energy) and society (for example, economy, industry, finance, demography, culture, ethics and history). The academic landscape of sustainability science likewise consists of clusters of diverse disciplines (Kajikawa et al., 2007).

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