Transforming Sustainability Science to Generate Positive Social and Environmental Change Globally

How can sustainability science be more effective and inspire people to reflect and act so that we see faster progress on global sustainability goals? Paul Shrivastava, Mark Stafford Smith, Laszlo Zsolnai and Karen O´Brien discuss where sustainability science is currently failing, what's missing, and what can be done about it. 

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Shrivastava, Paul, Stafford Smith, Mark, O’Brien, Karen and Laszlo Zsolnai (2020). Transforming sustainability science to generate positive social and environmental change globally. One Earth 2(4): 329-340.


Despite the decades-long efforts of sustainability science and related policy and action programs, humanity has not gotten closer to global sustainability. With its focus on the natural sciences, sustainability science is not able to contribute sufficiently to the global transition to sustainability. This Perspective argues for transforming sustainability science into a transdisciplinary enterprise that can generate positive social and environmental change globally. In such transformation, the social sciences, humanities, and the arts can play an important role to address the complex problems of culture, institutions, and human behavior. To realize a truly integrated sustainability science, we need renewed research and public policies that reshape the research ecosystem of universities, funding agencies, science communications, policymaking, and decision making. Sustainability science must also engage with society and creatively employ all available sources of knowledge in favor of creating a sustainable Earth.

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Published May 2, 2020 12:00 PM - Last modified May 19, 2020 2:35 PM