Constructing sustainability science: Emerging perspectives and research trajectories

Thaddeus R. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


Over the last decade, sustainability science has emerged as an interdisciplinary and innovative field attempting to conduct problem-driven research that links knowledge to action. As the institutional dimensions of sustainability science continue to gain momentum, this article provides an analysis of emerging research agendas in sustainability science and an opportunity for reflection on future pathways for the field. Based on in-depth interviews with leading researchers in the field and a content analysis of the relevant literature, this article examines how sustainability scientists bound the social, political and normative dimensions of sustainability as they construct research agendas and look to link knowledge to social action. Many scientists position sustainability science as serving universal values related to sustainability and providing knowledge that is crucial to societal decision-making. The implications of these findings are discussed with an eye towards creating a space for a more democratic and reflexive research agenda for sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-293
Number of pages15
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Boundary work
  • Knowledge to action
  • Reflexive
  • Research agenda
  • Science and technology studies
  • Sustainability science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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