Sustainability Studies

Sustainability is a burgeoning area of research across the social and natural sciences. Its key concepts are that of sustainability or sustainable development, and resilience. 

The idea of sustainable development was promoted by the ‘Brundtland Report’ delivered by the World Commission on Environment and Development, chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland, in 1987, although it was already used as part of the terms of reference of the commission when it was set up in 1983. The Commission defined Sustainable Development as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’

‘Resilience’ is an increasingly widely used among social and natural scientists. Resilience is the capacity of a system, like a society or an ecosystem, to deal with change and continue to develop. It could be considered a more neutral term in that it does not imply the necessity of trying to establish what might be the needs of future generations.

Both sustainability and resilience are concepts with a strong temporal dimension, and it is arguable that in practice historians are well equipped to contribute to debates a round them. Indeed, it is arguable that a very substantial proportion of the output of historians is essentially concerned with these issues. Nevertheless, History as a discipline has played little part, thus far, in discussions relating to sustainability studies.

This part of the site provides links to important centres for the study of Sustainability and Resilience, providing avenues for historians and others to explore, and access to some state-of-the-art thinking and research on these topics.

Sustainability Links







©  2008 Centre for History and Economics