Featured Stories

Fish, gold and pollution: homo economicus vs. homo psychologicus

Can we understand the role of human behaviour in renewable resource exploitation? To explore this question, we constructed an imaginary island called Lakeland, with a local population catching fish for its livelihood, having the possibility to exploit a goldmine and the  option to permit large, foreign trawlers to fish in their waters. Based on an underlying system dynamics model (see http://www.sustainabilityscience.eu/2020/local-fisheries-layers-of-overexploitation/), an agent-based model (ABM) was built to better understand the role of heterogeneity in needs satisfaction and risk perception [...]

By | August 20th, 2021|

Free energy flow density as a measure of complexity

The astrophysicist Chaisson (2001) has proposed an interesting link between energy and complexity. Organisms can be viewed as dissipative structures: Ordered objects whose structure can be maintained thanks to a steady input of high-quality energy. The free energy flow density (ɸ) necessary to sustain such a non-equilibrium structure is a measure of complexity. It can be expressed in erg per second per gram or, more commonly, in mW per kg (1 erg = 107 joule). The free energy flows are [...]

By | July 13th, 2020|

The Textbook

Written by prof. dr. B.J.M. de Vries, it provides an integrated, system-oriented introduction to the concepts, theories and issues surrounding the quest for a sustainable future for Planet Earth.
Check out the textbook’s companion website, where you will find chapter resources, exercises and more!
Go to textbook site

Knowledge Base

We are building a knowledgebase of links, institutions and educational material, based on our understanding of sustainability science, as presented in the book.
Have a look at some of the resources collected so far.
Go to Knowledge Base

Research & Education Tools

In this section we are collecting interactive tools that can be used for research and teaching.
Look at a few projects by us and other people.
Browse Our Collection

Other Stories from our Blog

Protected: Intro on Calculus

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May 31st, 2023|Chapter 9|Enter your password to view comments.

Protected: The Scientific Method

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May 31st, 2023|Chapter 8|Enter your password to view comments.

Social dynamics in Cultural Theory

Cultural Theory interprets social-cultural change as a continuous, dynamic interplay between the adherents of the four perspectives (Thompson 1992, 1997; Vries 2023). Individuals alter their perspective when it is no longer reconcilable with their experience. […]

August 27th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Energy: the Colosseum, slaves and containerships

The energy needed to deliver energy has always been a concern for societies. ‘All our societies require enormous flows of high-quality energy just to sustain, let alone raise, their complexity and order (to keep themselves […]

July 13th, 2020|Chapter 13, Chapter 7|0 Comments

Networks: one way to understand system behaviour

Systems consist of elements and their interrelations or linkages. The theory which focuses on these linkages is called network theory. It is of great help to understand how systems behave and is being applied to […]

March 23rd, 2020|Chapter 10, Chapter 2|0 Comments

Book and Website Reviews

Top-down or bottom-up, that is the question?

Every now and then I meet friends who have given up on changing the world: “It is too complex, too violent, too far away, and I feel powerless in the face of it. So I [...]

September 1st, 2016|0 Comments

A simple introduction to system dynamics for sustainability – a report by Hördur Haraldson

We humans make mental ‘maps’ of processes around us in order to live and survive. Many of those maps are simplified, based on a limited set of acquired habits and experienced events. The maps also [...]

August 29th, 2016|0 Comments

System dynamics for real-world complexity: a book by Erik Pruyt

In 2013, Dr. Erik Pruyt (Delft Technical University) has released a book on system dynamics, titled Small System Dynamics Models for Big Issues: Triple Jump towards Real-World Complexity. It is set up as an interactive [...]

August 29th, 2016|0 Comments

Games for sustainability education, research and policy

One way to explore integration of the natural and the social sciences is the construction and use of simulation games and policy exercises (cf. Chapter 10 and 12). Since 2013 several websites have come online [...]

June 20th, 2016|0 Comments