Expert Views on Sustainability and Technology Implementation

TitleExpert Views on Sustainability and Technology Implementation
Publication TypeMagazine Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsLaws, D, Scholz, R, Shiroyama, H, Susskind, L, Suzuki, T, Weber, O
MagazineNatural and Social Science Interface (UNS)

Twenty-one senior faculty members and researchers were interviewed about their con-ception of sustainability and their understanding of implementation in projects linked to theAlliance of Global Sustainability, a joint project of MIT (Boston), ETH (Zurich and Lausanne), UT(Tokyo), and Chalmers (Gothenburg).

We identified five complementary views on sustainability, i.e. i) science is sustainable per se , ii) sustainability is an ethical relationship with the past and future , iii ) sustainability is themaintenance of a system within functional limits , iv ) eco-efficiency , v ) sustainability is a form of ongoing inquiry . In total, the conception of ethical relationship was the most dominant concep-tion whereas science per se and eco-efficiency were less used. Researchers with a natural sciencebackground raised more aspects of sustainability and more emphasized limit management Eco-efficiency is important for professors with a social science but not for those with a natural sci-ence background.

Most of the researchers regarded implementation as the process whereby their workcomes into contact with social groups and processes and where concerns about taking actionand social technology change became prominent. The interviewed researchers considered suc-cessful implementation to be linked to value change, efficient information policy, institutionalaction but not regulations and supposed technology implementation to creates new alloca-tions, i.e. winners and losers.

The relationship between knowledge and action is considered central in views on imple-mentation. Three different conceptions and habits could be identified with respect to this rela-tionship, i.e. a) action: I act to change the world ; b) interaction, I exchange information with my environment through my actions , c) transaction or mutual learning. I change as a result of my effort to bring about change in the word.