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Reconstructing Sustainability Science: Knowledge and action for a sustainable future
Reconstructing Sustainability Science: Knowledge and action for a sustainable future


The growing urgency, complexity and "wickedness" of sustainability problems—from climate change and biodiversity loss to ecosystem degradation and persistent poverty and inequality—present fundamental challenges to scientific knowledge production and its use. While there is little doubt that science has a crucial role to play in our ability to pursue sustainability goals, critical questions remain as to how to most effectively organize research and connect it to actions that advance social and natural wellbeing.

Drawing on interviews with leading sustainability scientists, this book examines how researchers in the emerging, interdisciplinary field of sustainability science are attempting to define sustainability, establish research agendas, and link the knowledge they produce to societal action. Pairing these insights with case studies of innovative sustainability research centres, the book reformulates the sustainability science research agenda and its relationship to decision-making and social action. It repositions the field as a "science of design" that aims to enrich public reasoning and deliberation while also working to generate social and technological innovations for a more sustainable future.

This timely book gives students, researchers and practitioners a valuable and unique analysis of the emergence of sustainability science, and both the opportunities and barriers faced by scientific efforts to contribute to social action.

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Table of Contents


Part 1: Constructing Sustainability Science 

1. Planet Under Pressure 

2. A Science for Sustainability 

3. Constructing Sustainability Science 

4. Tensions in Sustainability Science 

Part 2: Reconstructing Sustainability Science 

5. Reclaiming Sustainability: Limits to Knowledge 

6. Sustainability as a Science of Design 

7. Conclusion: Sustainability and our Socio-Technical Future

About the Author

Thaddeus R. Miller is Assistant Professor at the Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Solutions, and an Associated Faculty of the Ecosystem Services in Urbanizing Regions IGERT program in the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University, USA. He is also an affiliate of the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at Arizona State University, USA. His research explores the social, ethical and political dimensions of science, technology and sustainability.