Topic 1a Theoretical Approaches


First book published in the Routledge / International Sustainable Development Research Society (ISDRS) Series in Sustainable Development Research. 

Transdisciplinarity For Sustainability: Aligning Diverse Practices. By Martina M. Keitsch and Walter J.V. Vermeulen (Eds.)

This volume explores interactions between academia and different societal stakeholders with a focus on sustainability. It examines the significance and potential of transdisciplinary collaboration as a tool for sustainability and the SDGs.

Traditionally, academia has focused on research and education. More recently, however, the challenges of sustainable development and achieving the SDGs have required the co-production of knowledge between academic and non-academic actors. Compromising theory, methods and case studies from a broad span of transdisciplinary collaboration, Transdisciplinarity For Sustainability: Aligning Diverse Practices is written by specialists from various academic disciplines and represents an important step forward in systematizing knowledge and understanding of transdisciplinary collaboration. They are designed to provide a roadmap for further research in the field and facilitate pursuing and realizing the SDGs. 

The book will appeal to researchers and postgraduate students in a variety of disciplines such as architecture, design, economics, social sciences, engineering and sustainability studies. It will also be of significant value to professionals who are engaged in transdisciplinary collaboration that supports sustainable development.

Available for ISDRS with 20% discount code: ISDRS on the book website.


Prof. Philip Vergragt’s keynote at ISDRS 26th annual Conference 15-7-2020

At the online conference Philip Vergragt of our partner organisation the “Great Transition Initiativepresented his keynote on sustainable consumption. After looking back at the historical creation of consumerism, he addressed the question how we can change away from consumerism. We can see the Covid-19 lockdown as a big experiment: can we live with less consumption? He promotes different policies for the various income levels for enabling shared prosperity.

Recommended Reading:
In ‘Journey to Earthland’ (2016) Paul Raskin sketches his vision on the “Great Transition to Planetary Civilization: available here. Recommended reading!

Inspiring video explains basics in 5 minutes.

ISDRS book

Next Conference: Track 1a

Keep up to date with developments of ISDRS 2024 Track 1a here 

Linking Futures of Mountain and Ocean: Rescuing the SDGs 2030 for Sustainable Livelihood

Who are we?

Dr. Walter J.V. Vermeulen, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Netherlands.

Related UN-SDGs

Past Conference

Nanjing, China 2019

Ecological Civilisation (special track)

Chair Frank Birkin

The presentations were very well focussed and each one addressed key sustainability issues. A major point to note that whilst China is the only country to declare that it is seeking to develop an Ecological Civilisations the papers from the UK and Colombia indicate that Ecological Civilisation is something for the world. Papers expanded on the theoretical underpinnings of an Ecological Civilisation and also provided practical examples. The greatest significance of the track that differentiates it from other ISDRC tracks is its emphasis on a whole-scale, step-change in our approaches to sustainability that encompasses the excellent work done by other ISDRC contributors and provides it with a unifying focus whilst allowing for deep changes in attitudes and values of the general populace with regard to personal, institutional and national gaols.

At the 2018 ISDRS Conference in June 2018 in Messina, Italy presentations in our track on theoretical approaches stressed some pivotal topics in sustainability science, like resilience and systems modelling. Moreover, the challenges and limitations caused by human behavior were discussed. The presentations were enriched by thrilling case studies and the presentations came up with new and interesting insights, e.g. concerning SDG impact and housing.

Knowledge Resources

State of the Art:
There is emerging agreement that sustainability challenges require new ways of knowledge production and decision-making: read here for more.
Collaborative research and teaching in international networks is critical, as it allows for accelerating learning by sharing problem understandings, successful solutions: read here for more.

Recommended Sources:
1) One of the useful academic teaching books is written by Bert de Vries.
2) Look at the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network on Data, Indicators & more.
3) Useful courses available at the UN SDG Academy; see for example “The Age of Sustainable Development”


Routledge & Earthscans' Sustainability Hub

Find useful essays, free books and articles, case studies and more at our partner's website: 

LinkedIn Discussions in our Topic group 1a

Recent discourses on the ISDRS LinkedIn discussion group:

Oct 2017 Peter Strachan posted: Sustainable Energy and Transition Theory

Partner Organisation