Special Issue: Earth System Governance – Task Force Initiative on Sustainability Science

We are pleased to announce a special issue of Challenges in Sustainability dedicated to research undertaken by the sustainability science working group of the Taskforce on Conceptual Foundations of Earth System Governance. The special issue has been edited by Anne Jerneck, Ellinor Isgren, and David O’Byrne. Editor-in-chief was Barry Ness from the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies.

The Taskforce on Conceptual Foundations is one of four current task forces operating under the auspices of the project, each open to and involving other research communities. It is a research initiative established to explore central ideas that frame the discourses and discussions around the challenges of governance in times of global environmental change and earth system transformation.The key concepts that unite task force researchers include, amongst others, the Anthropocene, Anticipatory Governance, Environmental Policy Integration, Resilience, and Transformations and Transitions toward Sustainability.

This special issue of Challenges in Sustainability captures some of the output from the team working on the concept of Sustainability Science. It includes transdisciplinary research combined with knowledge from relevant actors from outside academia, such as policy-makers, businesses, social organizations and citizens. In a set of articles and a short film, the special issue showcases the state-of-the-art in sustainability science research and education. In addition, the special issue is an important milestone for deliberations within the Taskforce and a first comprehensive and explicit effort to bring together the related concepts and epistemic communities on earth system governance and sustainability science.

Each submission provides a specific contribution to key developmental areas that have emerged in sustainability science over the past fifteen years. The editors introduce the issue by posing the question, what critical knowledge can we gain from sustainability science research on persistent socio-ecological problems and new sustainability challenges?” While they don’t claim to be able to sufficiently answer this question in itself, they provide various highly relevant examples of what sustainability science can offer and how parallels can be drawn with other study areas dealing with issues of sustainability.


You can find the special issue here.


Table of Contents

Editorial 1 – The Taskforce on Conceptual Foundations of Earth System Governance: Sustainability Science (p. 1) Barry Ness 1 and Ruben Zondervan 1;2


Editorial 2 – Pluralism in Search of Sustainability: Ethics, Knowledge and Methdology in Sustainability Science (p. 2) Ellinor Isgren 1;2 , Anne Jerneck 1;2 and David O’Byrne 1;2


Research Article – Alternative Perspectives on Sustainability: Indigenous Knowledge and Methodologies (p. 7) Meg Parsons 1 , Johanna Nalau 2;3 and Karen Fisher 1


Research Article –  Enabling Transformative Research: Lessons from the Eastern and Southern Africa Partnership Programme (1999-2015) (p. 15) Cordula Ott


Opinion  – Making Research Matter More—Working with Action Research and Film in Sustainability Science (p. 24) Elina Andersson and Ann Åkerman


Research Article –  Sustainability Science in the Light of Urban Planning (p. 26) François Mancebo


Research Article – Methodological Challenges in Sustainability Science: A Call for Method Plurality, Procedural Rigor and Longitudinal Research (p. 35) Henrik von Wehrden 1;2;3;4 , Christopher Luederitz 3;5 , Julia Leventon 6 and Sally Russell 7


Research Article- You Can’t Eat Biodiversity: Agency and Irrational Norms in European Aquatic Environmental Law (p. 43) Tim G. O’Higgins


Research Article – Fostering the Next Generation of Sustainability Professionals – Assessing Field-based Courses in a Sustainability Science Graduate Program (p. 52) Ricardo Omar San Carlos Arce, Yuki Yoshida and Shogo Kudo