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Supplemental Readings from the Reader

For each session, the editors of the Sustainability Science Reader, Bob Kates and Nancy Dickson, will select and post here 2 or 3 articles from the Reader that they believe to be most pertinent to the session themes. Accompanying the copies of the articles will be the Reader's editorial text that accompanies each article. This will also let participants see which sections of the Reader the editors believe to be most relevant to the session. Interested participants are asked to respond to the editors' selections through the discussion page, saying which articles where more or less useful, and suggesting alternatives or additions.

Kates, R., Thomas M. Parris, and Anthony A. Leiserowitz. 2005. What is sustainable development? Environment 47(3):9-21.
SS Reader SECTION 1.1 CONCEPTS / HISTORY The definition of sustainable development that has wide acceptance is: “Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable—to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” [1] The definition is actually creatively ambiguous and has encouraged alternative concepts of what is to be developed and what is to be sustained. The Reading explores the different definitions, goals, indicators, values, and practice that taken together seem to explain what is meant by sustainable development, beginning with a brief history. [1] World Commission on Environment and Development. 1987. Our Common Future. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kates, RW., WC Clark, R Corell, JM Hall, CC Jaeger, I Lowe, JJ McCarthy, HJ Schellnhuber, B Bolin, NM Dickson, et al 2001. Sustainability science. Science 292: 641-2
SS READER SECTION 2.1 EMERGING SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Much important research is done within the framework of the distinctive environmental or developmental sciences, so what seems to be different about sustainability science? It is first of all committed research, seeking solutions to problems posed by the needs of a sustainability transition. Second, it seeks integrated understanding of closely-coupled human-environment systems. And finally, it is as concerned with moving knowledge into actions as in creating knowledge itself. With a view toward promoting the research necessary to achieve such advances, the Reading proposes an initial set of core questions for sustainability science. These are meant to focus research attention on both the fundamental character of interactions between nature and society and on society's capacity to guide those interactions along more sustainable trajectories.
Clark, WC, PJ Crutzen, and HJ Schellnhuber. 2004. Science for global sustainability. In Earth Systems Analysis for Sustainability, eds. HJ Schellnhuber, PJ Crutzen, WC Clark, C Martin and H Hermann. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 1-28.
SS READER SECTION 2.1.3: EMERGING SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: INTEGRATIVE UNDERSTANDING. If coupled human-environment systems are the focus of sustainability science, and use-inspired research its practice, then integrated understanding is its goal. Sustainability science seeks to integrate many sources of knowledge: the research of scientists and technologists, the work of practitioners, and the experience of users of knowledge. Increasingly, research transcends the major disciplines as interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary efforts. In interdisciplinary research, scientists collaborate by asking how their disciplinary skills and understanding can contribute to the research, whereas in multidisciplinary research, they collectively undertake the research. In the transdisciplinary research of sustainability science, they frame the research questions together in ways that transcend their disciplinary origins and require new integrative understanding. But valuable knowledge is also resident in the skills and tacit understanding of practitioners, be they from the many professions of agriculture, engineering, health, or resident in the traditional and tacit knowledge of farmers, builders, and healers. The Reading illustrates the search for integrated understanding beginning with a base in the earth sciences. Some 23 questions are posed for global sustainability requiring new integrated approaches.