Sustainability Science for Strong Sustainability

Sustainability Science for Strong Sustainability

Tom Dedeurwaerdere

The dynamism of science has been catalytic for human prosperity in recent history. Conventional perspectives of the ivory tower model of modern science are, however, rivalled by the failure of humanity to tackle global crises of an economic, environmental and social nature. Operational solutions to these pressures have grown and exposed pitfalls of modern science to date. Sustainability Science for Strong Sustainability investigates core concepts, tools and institutional strategies of transdisciplinary sustainability science. Prominent research programs within heterodox economics, the environmental sciences and transition theory are explored through diverse case studies, revealing challenges and advancements for transdisciplinary research. In this book, the reform of modern science is facilitated by the consideration of action points to overcome the institutional barriers of putting sustainability science into practice. Researchers, students and policy practitioners will benefit from up to date knowledge on the practice of transdisciplinary research for sustainability.

Conclusion

Tom Dedeurwaerdere

Subjects: environment, ecological economics, politics and public policy, environmental governance and regulation

Extract

A wide range of scientific communities, international organizations and policy makers have documented the unprecedented sustainability crisis that humanity faces today. This crisis is most clearly visible through the excessive depletion and degradation of natural resources that accompany the pro-growth economic policies throughout the world, but this degradation also has a strong impact on the social, environmental and economic well-being of present and future generations. The role of science in this new landscape is far from trivial. On the one hand, the rapid spread of the institutions of scientific research in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is widely considered as the root that led to the industrial revolution and the subsequent growth in population, changes in global lifestyles and consumption patterns, which resulted in substantial (and globally disproportionate) improvements in human well-being (Mokyr, 2002). On the other hand, after centuries of triumph and optimism, science is now called on to remedy the pathologies of the global industrial system. Whereas it was previously understood as steadily advancing the certainty of our knowledge and control of the natural world, studies of science in society (Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1993; European Commission, 2009) show that nowadays science is increasingly seen as having to cope with many uncertainties in dealing with complex socio-ecological systems, value-based choices and the existence of a plurality of legitimate perspectives. In response, new styles of scientific activity are being developed.