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Sustainability Science

  • Advances basic understanding of the dynamics of human-environment systems
  • Facilitates the design, implementation and evaluation of practical interventions that promote sustainability in particular places and contexts
  • Improves linkages between relevant research and innovation communities, and relevant policy and management communities

By: Bert JM de Vries(Author)

610 pages, 19 colour & 147 b/w illustrations, 26 tables

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Feb 2013 | #197411 | ISBN-13: 9780521184700
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £39.99 $52/€45 approx
Hardback | Feb 2013 | #197412 | ISBN-13: 9781107005884
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £57.99 $75/€66 approx

About this book

Sustainable development is becoming the guiding principle for the twenty-first century. Sustainability Science – based on the author's course and rigorously class-tested by his students – provides an introduction into patterns of past and present (un)sustainable development and into the emergence of the notion of sustainable development. It systematically surveys the key concepts, models and findings of the various scientific disciplines with respect to the major sustainability issues: energy, nature, agro-food and resource systems, and economic growth. System analysis and modelling is introduced and used as an integrating tool. Stories and worldviews are used to connect the quantitative and the qualitative and to offer the reader an understanding of relevant trends and events in context. Sustainability Science is an ideal textbook for advanced undergraduate and graduate level courses in sustainable development and in environmental and resource science and policy.

"Achieving some sort of sustainability will be THE focus of global societies in the twenty-first century. To be successful, our leaders will need a perspective of centuries, the full breadth of scientific insights, system thinking skills, great cultural sensitivity, and an awareness of spiritual values. All of these are offered in this wonderful, unique text, which will be useful for decades."
– Dennis Meadows, co-author of The Limits to Growth

"This textbook is one of the first truly all-encompassing introductions to sustainability science. It is methodical, clearly written and well-illustrated, truly a pleasure to handle and to read. It sets a standard for the discipline and solidly educates the generation of students that will most directly have to deal with the challenges of creating a sustainable Earth system."
– Sander van der Leeuw, Dean, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University

"In this important new book, Bert de Vries has adopted a systems approach to examining all the issues that collectively amount to the determinants of sustainability. It is an excellent, comprehensive and up-to-date text dealing with not only the underlying biophysical science but also human behaviour. His use of interesting examples throughout makes it both instructive and enjoyable to read. I highly recommended it."
– Brian Walker, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Australia

"Bert de Vries' Sustainability Science is particularly welcome as it breaks ground in a new field, which so far lacks a proper systematic treatment. No wonder! The challenge is overwhelming: the book covers a series of disciplines and fields – geography, social and economic sciences, physics, chemistry, and biology – using a systems description and system dynamics as the main tool. De Vries not only succeeds in this overwhelming task but spices up the text with multiple excursions into history, philosophy, literature, not to forget the key issue of ethics. Justice and how we would like a future world to look like is always present. Bert's book is impressive, rich and inspiring."
– Lars Rydén, Centre for Sustainable Development, Uppsala University


1. Introduction
2. The systems dynamics perspective
3. In search of sustainability: past civilizations
4. The world in the past 300 years: the Great Acceleration
5. Sustainability: concerns and definitions
6. Quality of life: on values, knowledge and worldviews
7. Energy fundamentals
8. On knowledge and models
9. Ecosystems
10. Human populations and human behaviour
11. Agro-food systems
12. Renewable resources: water, fish and forest
13. Non-renewable resources: the industrial economy
14. Towards a sustainable economy
15. Outlook on the futures

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Bert J. M. de Vries is co-founder and member of the Institute for Energy and Environment (IVEM) at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, where he received his Ph.D. on sustainable resource use. Since 1990 he has been a senior scientist at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL, formerly MNP and RIVM). He has been actively involved in modelling and scenario construction for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Since 2003 he has also been a Professor of Global Change and Energy at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. His research expertise and publications are in resource and energy analysis, modelling and policy; climate and global change modelling; and complex systems modelling for sustainable development. He has co-edited several books, including Perspectives on Global Change: The TARGETS Approach (1997, Cambridge University Press) and Mappae Mundi: Humans and their Habitats in a Long-Term Socio-Ecological Perspective (2002, Amsterdam University Press).

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