ISSN: 2297-6477 doi: 10.12924/librello.CiS

Challenges in Sustainability (CiS; ISSN 2297-6477) is an international, open access, academic, interdisciplinary journal dedicated to the publication of high-quality research articles and review papers on all aspects of global environmental and transformational change toward sustainability. Research articles, reviews, communications or short notes and films are welcomed. Manuscripts must be prepared in English; they will undergo a rigorous peer review process, and they will appear online immediately after final acceptance. We especially encourage submissions from early stage researchers.

Objectives & Aims

The objective of the journal is to be a front-runner for original science that stimulates the development of sustainability solutions in an era of global environmental change. CiS defines its place at the interface between natural, socio-economic, and the humanistic sciences, creating a unique platform to disseminate analyses on challenges related to global environmental change, associated solutions, and trade-offs. The journal helps to further the field of sustainability science by bridging gaps between disciplines, science and societal stakeholders while not neglecting scientific rigor and excellence. The journal promotes science-based insights of societal dynamics, and is open for innovative and critical approaches that stimulate scientific and societal debates.

Examples of topics to be covered by this journal include, but are not limited to:

  • Environment and resource science
  • Governance for sustainability
  • Transition experiments and pathway studies
  • Education for sustainability
  • Future and anticipatory studies
  • Transdisciplinarity
  • Sustainable urban systems
  • Sustainable energy
  • Place-based sustainability studies
  • Resource exploitation
  • Impact assessment and integrated modeling
  • Carbon accounting and compensation
  • Remote sensing and geoinformation

Latest publications

doi: 10.12924/cis2017.05020001 | Volume 5 (2017) | Issue 2
Charles F. Mason 1, 2, * and Rémi Morin Chassé 3
1 Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming, Laramie, USA
2 Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics, London, UK
3 Department of Economics, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Canada
* Corresponding author
Views 138
PDF 98
Publication Date: 8 May 2017
Abstract: The existing economics literature neglects the important role of capacity in the production of renewable energy. To fill this gap, we construct a model in which renewable energy production is tied to renewable energy capacity, which then becomes a form of capital. This capacity capital can be increased through investment, which we interpret as arising from the allocation of energy, and which therefore comes at the cost of reduced general production. Requiring societal well-being to never decline—the notion of sustainability favored by economists—we describe how society could optimally elect to split energy in this fashion, the use of non-renewable energy resources, the use of renewable energy resources, and the implied time path of societal well-being. Our model delivers an empirically satisfactory explanation for simultaneous use of non-renewable and renewable energy. We also discuss the optimality of ceasing use of non-renewable energy before the non-renewable resource stock is fully exhausted.

doi: 10.12924/cis2017.05010052 | Volume 5 (2017) | Issue 1
Ricardo Omar San Carlos Arce 1 , Yuki Yoshida 1, * and Shogo Kudo 1
1 Graduate Program in Sustainability Science-Global Leadership Initiative, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo
* Corresponding author
Views 673
PDF 289
Publication Date: 27 March 2017
Abstract: A growing number of educational programs in sustainability science has paralleled the rise of the field itself. The educational approach of these programs follows the problem-driven, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary nature of the field itself. However, its effectiveness has yet to be systematically evaluated. Similarly, while ad-hoc evaluation schemes have attempted to monitor the quality of the educational programs, there is no standard method that accounts for the particularities of sustainability science programs. This study thus addresses the need for an assessment of the problem-driven approach of educational programs in sustainability science. We have conducted student self-assessments of field courses in the Graduate Program in Sustainability Science (GPSS-GLI) at The University of Tokyo, which positions its field courses at the center of its curriculum. The self-assessments were based on five key competencies identified as particularly important for sustainability professionals. Workshops and questionnaires engaged students in a reflection of the six field courses and of their own personal development through the activities offered. Our questionnaire results indicate that the majority of participants were satisfied with how the courses furthered their personal development. While some participants expressed frustration at being unable to sufficiently address the respective field's sustainability challenges due to time constraints, students generally recognized the five key competencies as important for addressing sustainability issues after participating in the courses. Moreover, participants attributed much of their learning to their active engagement in planned field research activities, rather than to passive learning. Variations in results across different course units provide material for further analysis and development of the curriculum. This study is an initial attempt at assessment, with room for ongoing improvement and further research to address additional requirements for fostering the next generation of sustainability professionals.

doi: 10.12924/cis2017.05010043 | Volume 5 (2017) | Issue 1
Tim G. O'Higgins
Marine Governace Group, MaREI, Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
Views 461
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Publication Date: 20 March 2017
Abstract: Policies of the European Union cover a range of social, environmental and economic aspirations and the current environmental directives and laws have evolved from a suite of norms which have changed over time. These may be characterised loosely according to 'Three Ps': Practical, those taking an anthropocentric approach; Pure, those taking an ecocentric approach and Popular, those appealing to the general public. In this paper I use these three perspectives as a tool to analyse the complexity and identify contradictions in European aquatic environmental legislation. Some trade-offs between development and conservation are identified and used to characterise the potential qualities of more successful agency to achieve environmental goals in the governance of European aquatic environments.

doi: 10.12924/cis2017.05010035 | Volume 5 (2017) | Issue 1
Henrik von Wehrden 1, 2, 3, 4, * , Christopher Luederitz 3, 5 , Julia Leventon 6 and Sally Russell 7
1 Centre of Methods, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany
2 FuturES Research Center, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany
3 Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany
4 Institute of Ecology, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany
5 SPROUT Lab, Geography and Environmental Management, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
6 Institute of Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany
7 Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
* Corresponding author
Views 594
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Publication Date: 20 March 2017
Abstract: Sustainability science encompasses a unique field that is defined through its purpose, the problem it addresses, and its solution-oriented agenda. However, this orientation creates significant methodological challenges. In this discussion paper, we conceptualize sustainability problems as wicked problems to tease out the key challenges that sustainability science is facing if scientists intend to deliver on its solution-oriented agenda. Building on the available literature, we discuss three aspects that demand increased attention for advancing sustainability science: 1) methods with higher diversity and complementarity are needed to increase the chance of deriving solutions to the unique aspects of wicked problems; for instance, mixed methods approaches are potentially better suited to allow for an approximation of solutions, since they cover wider arrays of knowledge; 2) methodologies capable of dealing with wicked problems demand strict procedural and ethical guidelines, in order to ensure their integration potential; for example, learning from solution implementation in different contexts requires increased comparability between research approaches while carefully addressing issues of legitimacy and credibility; and 3) approaches are needed that allow for longitudinal research, since wicked problems are continuous and solutions can only be diagnosed in retrospect; for example, complex dynamics of wicked problems play out across temporal patterns that are not necessarily aligned with the common timeframe of participatory sustainability research. Taken together, we call for plurality in methodologies, emphasizing procedural rigor and the necessity of continuous research to effectively addressing wicked problems as well as methodological challenges in sustainability science.

doi: 10.12924/cis2017.05010026 | Volume 5 (2017) | Issue 1
François Mancebo
International Research Center on Sustainability, Rheims University, Rheims, France
Views 627
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Publication Date: 3 March 2017

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that, as part of its mission, sustainability science can change the way planners engage with urban problems on three points: First, that effective standard planning is an illusion, and the crucial task for urban planners should be considering—on a place-based rationale—the long-term consequences of decisions, policies and, technology change. Second,how it is necessary to develop collaborative planning and co-production of knowledge. Third, to build effective actions on the basis of collaborative planning, it is crucial to take first into account how the population and the institutions respond to and resist change. Conversely, this paper shows that urban planning is also a breeding ground for consolidating the theoretical framework of sustainability science, considering that cities can be seen as paragons of both socio-ecological systems and complex adaptive systems—a position that is discussed throughout the article. Bringing sustainability science and urban planning in closer dialogue with each other, to exploit their potential synergies, has not been done sufficiently: It is an important gap in the academic literature that this article aims at filling.

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ISSN: 2297-6477
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