The world in the 21st century is experiencing accelerating change in environment and climate, as well as in the technological, economic and social spheres. How can we ensure improved coupling between science and society for more effective transition to sustainability? Traditional disciplinary fields of ‘normal science’ can only play a limited role in resolving such complex problems, especially considering the prevailing rift between the natural and the social sciences.
In Luxembourg, salient disciplinary research and teaching to describe specific sustainability challenges that are set in specific systems is established, and the development of key interdisciplinary research areas including on transport/mobility, health economics, ecological economics, economic geography, and Green ICT is well underway. There is however relatively little research that combines natural science and engineering with critical perspectives from social sciences and humanities on the functioning of our society. This is however required in order to better understand and act upon complex social- ecological systems. A new field of transformative sustainability science is emerging, in which researchers, civil society, private enterprise, and governments collaborate with the goal of transforming how society and environment interact. Universities with their combined mission of research, teaching and civic engagement have a pivotal role to play in building this new mode of scientific inquiry.
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