The field of sustainability science has grown significantly over the past two decades in terms of both conceptual development and empirical research. Systems-focused analysis is critical to building generalizable knowledge in the field, yet much relevant research does not take a systems view. Systems-oriented analytical frameworks can help researchers conceptualize and analyze sustainability-relevant systems, but existing frameworks may lack access or utility outside a particular research tradition. In this article, we outline the human–technical–environmental (HTE) framework, which provides analysts from different disciplinary backgrounds and fields of study a common way to advance systems-focused research on sustainability issues. We detail a step-by-step guide for the application of the HTE framework through a matrix-based approach for identifying system components, studying interactions among system components, and examining interventions targeting components and/or their interactions for the purpose of advancing sustainability. We demonstrate the applicability of the HTE framework and the matrix-based approach through an analysis of an empirical case of coal-fired power plants and mercury pollution, which is relevant to large-scale sustainability transitions. Based on this analysis, we identify specific insights related to the applicability of upstream and downstream leverage points, connections between energy markets and the use of pollution control technologies, andmore »
Conceptual frameworks facilitate integration for transdisciplinary urban science
Abstract There are urgent calls for developing a comprehensive and globally-relevant urban science that emphasizes convergence among disciplines and practice. Advancing theory and conceptual frameworks is critical to developing a new urban systems science. We synthesize five frameworks that address features identified in calls for global urban science. The frameworks address the overarching urban conditions of complexity, diffuseness, connectivity, and diversity of cities across the globe. The frameworks also help evaluate how a project or study may advance sustainability. The metacity concept, a spatially scalable representation of mosaic change in urban systems, demonstrates how the frameworks apply to increasingly extensive, spatially heterogeneous, and dynamic urban regions. The metacity concept helps avoid static and isolated plans and management approaches and provides a conceptual foundation for an interdisciplinary urban systems science. The frameworks suggest a practical checklist that may help interventions, strategies, and research better align with goals for transforming urban systems toward sustainability.
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- Journal Name:
- npj Urban Sustainability
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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