Sustainability science and technology

According to Luís Bettencourta and Jasleen Kaurcthe at the Santa Fe Institute (, current state of sustainability science scholarship has two epicentres, one in Europe and another in the USA. Most Scandinavian and North American sustainability science scholars work on socio-ecological systems, and western European scholars work on socio-technical systems. The Adaptive Transition Initiative in its effort to innovate at the intersection of these two systems approaches recognizes three areas of work important for communicating sustainability science – mid-stream modulation, boundary work, and sustainability transitions.

The concept of mid-stream modulation entails small changes in research implementation through constant interactions with social scientists that may ultimately help bring disruptive changes in end-user participation downstream. Boundary work entails mediating role of various boundary actors, processes and artifacts in such processes as adaptive co-management of agricultural and natural resources. Sustainability transitions are those changes that bring long-term transformations towards low-carbon systems of production and consumption as a result of important new policy decisions at the regime-level, also called structural change or system innovation.


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