Different research fields can have both distinct and at times overlapping imaginaries of sustainability. For example, I have a background in Business, Sociology and Art. While Business, Sociology and Art deal with humanity and nature in certain ways, they can have some similar and some different concentrations and understandings of how humans and nature relate, the origins of ecological and social crises and how to address them.

Shedding light on these approaches allows us to better understand where research fields differ and overlap. It can also show the value, further potential and also the challenges of transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research.

In the following, you can find a preliminary short overview of the perspectives on nature and humanity from Business, Economics, Management, Sociology of Arts & Culture and the Environmental Humanities.

Business and Economics – Reforming Capitalism?

Some of the concepts used in business and economics include: Circular Economy, Doughnut Economics, Systems Thinking, Triple Bottom Line, Triple Top Line and various developments and alternatives to the conventional growth paradigm. The Planetary Boundaries concept, developed by multiple scientists in 2009, is referred to and used as foundation in multiple recent scholarly works in Business and Economics, Management. A short list of some articles from business, economics, management can be found here.

Sociology of Arts & Culture

What is the role of art and culture in relation to sustainability? Aspects of social sustainability have been the focus within sociology for quite some time, not necessarily under the term ‘social sustainability’. Environmental questions are gaining traction across scholarly fields, particularly since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. How are art and culture addressing sustainability? What impact do art and culture have on the environment? How are art and culture affected by social and environmental developments? In a new university course that Dr. Amanda Brandellero and I developed (“Sustainability in the Visual Arts and Crafts”), we are looking closer at some of these questions, considering concepts, such as Circular Economy, Doughnut Economics and Cradle to Cradle, some of which originated in the field of economics.

Environmental Humanities

The Environmental Humanities can re-frame environmental problems, such as climate change, as not merely environmental, but also human, social and cultural. The modes of inquiry from the Humanities can help in addressing problems that frame human-nature relations, such as intangibility of and alienation from environmental issues, scientific framing, negative framing and separation of the ‘environment’. Reflections on how humans and nature relate include concepts such as interspecies relationshipsentanglementsmesh between human and nature, countering notions of human/nature dualism, human control of nature and nature as something external. Such deep understandings allow a better understanding about how social and ecological crises originate.

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