Sustainability Science: Key Issues, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Sustainability Science

Key Issues, 1st Edition

Edited by Ariane König, Jerome Ravetz


364 pages | 42 B/W Illus.

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Sustainability Science: Key Issues is a comprehensive textbook for undergraduates, postgraduates, and participants in executive trainings from any disciplinary background studying the theory and practice of sustainability science. Each chapter takes a critical and reflective stance on a key issue or method of sustainability science. Contributing authors offer perspectives from diverse disciplines, including physics, philosophy of science, agronomy, geography, and the learning sciences.

This book equips readers with a better understanding of how one might actively design, engage in, and guide collaborative processes for transforming human-environment-technology interactions, whilst embracing complexity, contingency, uncertainties, and contradictions emerging from diverse values and world views. Each reader of this book will thus have guidance on how to create and/or engage in similar initiatives or courses in their own context.

Sustainability Science: Key Issues is the ideal book for students and researchers engaged in problem and project based learning in sustainability science.


"Transforming our world into one that is sustainable and desirable and that achieves the UN Sustainable Development Goals is the overarching challenge for humanity today. This book is an important and innovative guide to sustainability science as a transformative, whole system learning process that is essential to achieving this goal."— Professor Robert Costanza, The Australian National University, Australia

"This book will certainly promote the debate on the role of scientific knowledge in sustainability transitions. It convinces by its enlightened perspective on appropriate forms of knowledge production in the 21st century."Professor Uwe Schneidewind, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Germany

"This book provides a powerful set of concepts and methods that have proved very effective for the participatory development of new perspectives and actionable knowledge on sustainability in practice, on campus and beyond. Whether for course-work or for practice – this book gives clear guidance. It is a gem!" Associate Professor Maki Ikegami, Hokkaido University, Japan

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Sustainability science as a transformative social learning process Ariane König

Chapter 2. Flowers of resistance: Citizen science, ecological democracy and the transgressive education paradigm Arjen E.J. Wals, Michael A. Peters

Part I. Embracing complexity and alternative futures: Conceptual tools and methods

Chapter 3. Systems approaches for transforming social practice: Design requirements Ariane König

Chapter 4. Cognitive pitfalls in dealing with sustainability Philipp Sonnleitner

Chapter 5. Escaping the complexity dilemma Barry Newell, Katrina Proust

Chapter 6. Exploring alternative futures with scenarios Gerard Drenth, Shirin Elahi, Ariane König

Chapter 7. Social technology and Theory U: Co-creating actionable knowledge for

leadership Isabel Page

Chapter 8. Staging design-thinking for sustainability in practice: Guidance and watch-outs Kilian Gericke, Boris Eisenbart, Gregor Waltersdorfer

Part II. What might transformations look like? Sectoral challenges and interdependence

Chapter 9. Can ecosystem services help the new agricultural transitions? Nicolas Dendoncker, Emilie Crouzat

Chapter 10. Food systems and human ecology: An overview Federico Davila, Robert Dyball

Chapter 11. Energy: Physical and technical basics Susanne Siebentritt

Chapter 12. Urban energy transitions from innovations in green building Julia Affolderbach, Bérénice Preller, Christian Schulz

Chapter 13. Democratising renewable energy production: A Luxembourgish perspective Kristina Hondrila, Simon Norcross, Paulina Golinska-Dawson, Vladimir Broz, Aydeli Rios, Jules Muller

Chapter 14. Community-based monitoring for improved water governance: a case study in Holbox Island, Quintana Roo State, Mexico Kim Chi Tran, Ariane König

Part III. Tracking, steering and judging transformation

Chapter 15. Sustainability indicators: Quality and quantity Jerome Ravetz, Paula Hild, Olivier Thunus, Julien Bollati

Chapter 16. Complex learning and the significance of measurement Sebastian Manhart

Chapter 17. Uncertainty as a key to sustainability economics Jerome Ravetz

Chapter 18. Post-Script: Heuristics for sustainability science Jerome Ravetz

Chapter 19. Outlook: citizens and science in the Anthropocene Ariane König

About the Editors

Ariane König is a Senior Researcher in the Research Unit for Education, Cognition, Culture and Society at the University of Luxembourg.

Jerome Ravetz is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, University of Oxford.

About the Series

Key Issues in Environment and Sustainability

This series provides comprehensive, original and accessible texts on the core topics in environment and sustainability. The texts take an interdisciplinary and international approach to the key issues in this field.

Please get in touch with Rebecca Brennan ([email protected]), Annabelle Harris ([email protected]) or Hannah Ferguson ([email protected]) if you would like to submit a proposal.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
SCIENCE / Environmental Science

Thematic Essay

For more on Sustainability Science please do take a look at this Thematic Essay from Ariane König, available on the Routledge Sustainability Hub.