Book - Princeton University Press

Pursuing Sustainability: A Guide to the Science and Practice

| March 30, 2016

Sustainability is, or should be, a goal shared by governments, NGOs, corporations, universities, and citizens alike. To achieve this goal is to ensure that steps taken today to enhance our prosperity do not degrade the well-being of our neighbors or of future generations. Sustainability requires careful attention to all of the assets that provide the foundations for well-being, including natural, social, manufactured, human, and knowledge capital.

But how do we achieve sustainability? Where should officials charged with improving their country’s or community’s sustainability start? What should they consider in balancing priorities of today with needs for the future? How should manufacturers weigh their bottom lines against their footprints on the land and people around them? Managing our resources requires understanding how they interact in highly complex social-environmental systems. It also requires understanding how people can intervene in those systems to move them toward sustainability goals, working collaboratively in governance processes to influence how society takes actions to promote sustainability.

Sustainability is a global and local imperative and a scientific challenge that confronts society worldwide.

Pursuing Sustainability: A Guide to the Science and Practice, by leading authorities Pamela Matson, William C. Clark, and Krister Andersson, is a concise guide that provides everyone interested in sustainability – students, scholars and practitioners alike – with a strategic framework and approaches for understanding, analyzing, and effectively engaging in sustainability challenges. While individuals from every realm of society can and need to engage in this, innovations from the research and innovation communities are particularly needed; creating useful knowledge and linking it effectively with decision-making is an urgent need. In educational settings, the book serves as an invaluable primer and companion to research and teaching that deals with sustainability in particular sectors such as energy, food, water, and cities, or in particular regions of the world. In professional settings, it offers a guide to how we all—regardless of profession—can become more effective in the pursuit of sustainability.



Endorsements for Pursuing Sustainability

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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, Bing Professor of Environmental Science, Stanford University

“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

About This Book

Pursuing Sustainability: A Guide to the Science and Practice
Pamela Matson Krister Andersson
For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Matson, Pamela, William C. Clark, and Krister Andersson. Pursuing Sustainability: A Guide to the Science and Practice. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, March 30, 2016.

The Authors

William C. Clark