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Session 2 (20 Sept) Sustainable development and sustainability science

Supplementary readings from the Sustainability Science Reader (section in Reader, short title, citation; For copies see web site under ‘Readings/Sust Sci Reader’)

1.1 Concepts and History [Kates, Parris & Leiserowitz 2005]

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.” The definition is actually creatively ambiguous and has encouraged alternative concepts of what is to be developed and what is to be sustained. Reading: Kates, R., Thomas M. Parris, and Anthony A. Leiserowitz. 2005. What is sustainable development? Environment 47(3):9-21. 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.

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2.1.3 Integrative understanding [Clark, Crutzen & Schellnhuber, 2004]

2.1.3 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. Reading: Clark, W. C., P. J. Crutzen, and H. J. Schellnhuber. 2004. Science for global sustainability. In Earth Systems Analysis for Sustainability, eds. H. J. Schellnhuber, P. J. Crutzen, W. C. Clark, C. Martin and H. Hermann. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 1-28. 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.

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