Quality criteria for visions and visioning in sustainability science

Arnim Wiek, David Iwaniec

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    196 Scopus citations


    Envisioning how a desirable future might look is a long-standing effort in human evolution and social change. Utopian thought and visions provide direction for actions and behavior; more so, they create identity and community. Accordingly, the discourse on sustainability and sustainable development has recognized that positive visions about our societies’ future are an influential, if not indispensable, stimulus for change. Visioning is, thus, considered a key method in sustainability research and problem solving, for instance, in transformational sustainability science or in planning for urban sustainability. Yet, quality criteria for sustainability visions and guidelines on how to rigorously craft such visions are scattered over different strands of the literature and some are insufficiently developed. The goal of this article is to review and synthesize such quality criteria and design guidelines to inform sustainability visioning methodology. The review provides a concise reference framework for sustainability students, researchers, and professionals on how to enhance their sustainability visioning practices.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)497-512
    Number of pages16
    JournalSustainability Science
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Oct 24 2014


    • Methodology
    • Participatory research
    • Sustainable futures
    • Transformational sustainability science
    • Visioning
    • Visions

    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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