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Themes in New Directions in Sustainability and Society

Collectively, books published in the New Directions of Sustainability and Society series recognize the social costs of current human-environment interactions at the local, regional and global scales as they illustrate how behavioral and social change are necessary for long-term sustainability and well-being in the present and into the future. They engage in forms of “future thinking,” a new approach to sustainability scholarship that explores how we can learn from the past, about the present, for the future.


Past earth histories and vibrant human futures New

Anthropological, ethnographic and archeological approaches that draw forward lessons on environmental and cultural heritage and resilience to see what may be applied to the 21st century challenge of a planet undergoing dramatic, game changing regime shifts.

Just and sustainable societies New

Research on sustainability that engages with a wide range of fields that merge across the humanities, social sciences, applied sciences, natural sciences, archaeology and ancient history. Research that explores possibilities for motivating individual and societal behavior change in ways that are guided by values, belief, and culture and reflection on ideology, politics, inequities and material realities.


Equity and justice

Research that explores how to allow future generations to have the resources to pursue meaningful, fulfilling lives (intergenerational equity).


Diverse Ways of Knowing

Research that explores how to integrate multiple ways of knowing about the world into sustainability theory and practice.


Vulnerability and resilience

Research that explores how sustainability strategies might reduce vulnerability to harm and make systems resilient. Drawn from ecological theory, resilience is the ability of a system to absorb shocks without fundamentally changing the structure and function of that system.

Historical and archaeological research, for example, can tell us something about how societies have responded (or not) to socio-ecological challenges and what that might teach us about social transformation, a key sustainability goal.


Biological and cultural diversity

Research that explores biodiversity as a powerful measure of ecological integrity and health and, in social systems, how increasing attention to the value of diversity in culture, knowledge, governance, beliefs, and experiences might support transition to a sustainable future.


Long-term perspectives

Sustainability challenges the status quo as a viable or desirable plan for the future. Research that explores ideas about fundamental transformations in human-environment relationships. For example, how historical and archaeological perspectives can shed light on the dynamics of failed and successful transformations.