Books  Environmental Studies  Sustainable Development: General 

Pursuing Sustainability: A Guide to the Science and Practice

  • Provides a strategic framework for linking knowledge with action
  • Draws on the latest cutting-edge science and practices
  • Serves as the ideal companion text to more narrowly focused courses
  • Utilizes interdisciplinary approaches and systems perspectives
  • Illustrates concepts with a core set of case studies used throughout the book
  • Written by world authorities on sustainability
  • An online illustration package is available to professors

By: Pamela Matson(Author), William C Clark(Author), Krister Andersson(Author)

248 pages, 7 b/w photos, 17 b/w illustrations, 4 tables

Princeton University Press

Hardback | Apr 2016 | #229962 | ISBN-13: 9780691157610
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £26.99 $34/€30 approx

About this book

Sustainability is a global imperative and a scientific challenge like no other. This concise guide provides students and practitioners with a strategic framework for linking knowledge with action in the pursuit of sustainable development, and serves as an invaluable companion to more narrowly focused courses dealing with sustainability in particular sectors such as energy, food, water, and housing, or in particular regions of the world.

Written by leading experts, Pursuing Sustainability shows how more inclusive and interdisciplinary approaches and systems perspectives can help you achieve your sustainability objectives. It stresses the need for understanding how capital assets are linked to sustainability goals through the complex adaptive dynamics of social-environmental systems, how committed people can use governance processes to alter those dynamics, and how successful interventions can be shaped through collaborations among researchers and practitioners on the ground.

The ideal textbook for undergraduate and graduate students and an invaluable resource for anyone working in this fast-growing field, Pursuing Sustainability also features case studies, a glossary, and suggestions for further reading.

Watch a short introduction below:


"[...] This book is a useful addition to the vast literature on sustainability. It merits inclusion in reading recommendations for undergraduate and postgraduate courses with an emphasis on the many aspects of envirormiental management."
– Antoinette Mannion, The BES Bulletin 47(3), October 2016

"A valuable resource for academic learning in higher education settings, as well as an informative tool to guide the practice of sustainability in institutional environments [...] The framework they have presented in this book is adaptable for numerous social-ecological contexts at multiple scales for people working together to create change in pursuit of sustainable development and promote well-being of people for today and for the future."
– Robert B. Richardson, Ecological Economics

"If we are to make peace with nature, the effort will have to come from us all. This very moving book is the finest introduction to the subject I have seen. It does not avoid technicalities, but can be read with equal benefit by the young and the old with no prior knowledge of the complexities we face."
– Sir Partha Dasgupta, Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Cambridge

"Sustainability can seem like a faraway, nebulous dream. Through a clear framework, iconic case studies, and a beautiful, accessible style, Pursuing Sustainability brings this dream to life. A must-read for anyone concerned about the future health of our planet."
– Gretchen C. Daily, cofounder of the Natural Capital Project and author of The Power of Trees

"Finally, a beautiful small book bringing together the thinking and practice behind sustainability science in an easily accessible and comprehensive manner, making it clear that this critical field of study for humanity provides an overarching framework for many different areas and competencies dealing with the sustainability challenge. Strongly recommended."
– Carl Folke, founder of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, and director of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

"This is a beautiful, lucid, and desperately needed book about the sustainability challenge. The authors accomplish a mission impossible: providing deep analyses of complex adaptive social-environmental systems while using simple terms and compelling metaphors to expose the crucial steps we need to take for long-term inclusive well-being. A must-read for practitioners and scholars alike."
– Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

"This excellent book provides an accessible framework for understanding sustainability, which is particularly timely as we reach a turning point in global efforts. Crucially, it emphasizes a holistic approach to address the interconnected nature of sustainability issues. The book is a very useful resource not only for scholars and practitioners of sustainability, but also as a compass to guide experts in other disciplines."
– Kazuhiko Takeuchi, editor-in-chief of the journal Sustainability Science and senior vice-rector of United Nations University

"Pursuing Sustainability by Matson, Clark, and Andersson is that all too rare book able to convey deepest insights in simplest words. Written to engage, inform, and provoke, it is simultaneously a call to think and act. It will find enduring appeal among students and researchers, casual readers and experts; I predict no collection on sustainability will be complete without this foundational work."
– Arun Agrawal, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan

"It is an enormous challenge to relay to students the complexity of sustainable development while providing them with skills and ways of thinking that can be applied concretely. This succinct and accessible primer provides the essential tools, methods, and approaches they need."
– Ruth DeFries, author of The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis

"A useful, compelling synthesis of a range of ideas."
– Kai N. Lee, coauthor of Humans in the Landscape: An Introduction to Environmental Studies

"The authors provide an accessible introduction to sustainability for a broad audience, including students, practitioners, policymakers, and business leaders. They blend clearly written descriptions of key concepts with illustrations from case studies and cover a wide range of topics. They make the case for why sustainability matters, and show how readers can contribute to solving sustainability challenges."
– Kimberly Nicholas, Lund University in Sweden

"Written by esteemed experts and colleagues at the Arizona State University Board of Directors for Sustainability, this book leads the way to understanding how re-focusing sustainability challenges through the lens of innovation and collaboration can transform research and knowledge into action that can change the world."
– Michael M. Crow, President, Arizona State University


Preface vii
Acknowledgments ix

CHAPTER 1 Pursuing Sustainability: An Introduction 1
CHAPTER 2 A Framework for Sustainability Analysis: Linking Ultimate Goals with Their Underlying Determinants 14
CHAPTER 3 Dynamics of Social-Environmental Systems 52
CHAPTER 4 Governance in Social-Environmental Systems 83
CHAPTER 5 Linking Knowledge with Action 105
CHAPTER 6 Next Steps: Contributing to a Sustainability Transition 129

Appendix A Case Studies in Sustainability 143
Appendix B Glossary of Terms, Acronyms, and Additional Resources 187

Notes 211
Index 225

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Pamela Matson is dean of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences and the Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies at Stanford University. William C. Clark is the Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy, and Human Development at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Krister Andersson is professor of political science at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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