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David Harnesk (photo Emilio José Bernard)

David Harnesk


David Harnesk (photo Emilio José Bernard)

Three crucial considerations when presenting alternative paradigms in sustainability research


  • Chad Boda
  • David Harnesk

Summary, in English

Sustainability science (SS) is diverse field of problem-driven and solution-oriented research that is still developing. The further maturation of the field relies on its practitioners formulating alternative paradigms to use-inspired knowledge production to facilitate comparison and reasoned judgment on what constitutes scientific best practices. In this short article, we flag several blind spots that can arise in attempts to articulate potential paradigms in SS. We identify and discuss three crucial components that should be included when constructing and presenting potential paradigms in the field, namely the necessity of 1) comparing suggested alternatives with available competitors, 2) preserving scientific integrity in scientific knowledge production, and 3) clarifying the particular contribution of scientific knowledge to social change. Keeping sight of these three important issues will allow the still developing field of SS to mature in a way that builds on scientific comparison and reasoned judgment among the field’s practitioners, with implications for advancing its research agenda. The issues we outline here should not only concern authors, but reviewers and editors of SS journals as well.


  • LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

Publishing year





Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

Document type

Journal article




  • Climate Research
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • Sustainability Science
  • Action-oriented research
  • Scientific knowledge production
  • Competing paradigms




  • ISSN: 2190-6491