Sustainability Research Institute

CALL FOR BOOK CHAPTERS

11.11.2016 - 14:53

Strongly Sustainable Societies

Organising Human Activities on a Hot and Full Earth

The Earth is getting hotter and fuller. With mounting evidence, climate scientists record and forecast global temperature rises, while biologists and palaeontologists present signs of a mass extinction of species. The full Earth thus refers to a human-dominated state of affairs (see Daly, 2005), as the ‘end of nature’ was already proclaimed a generation ago (McKibben, 1989). These two radical circumstances for life on Earth are closely linked. Human activity driven by industrialisation and the global rich, but also more generally promoted by our numbers, systems and priorities, have destroyed natural habitats, changed ecosystems, marginalized traditional cultures and eliminated or domesticated non-human populations.

The international community’s responses to the socio-ecological problems that took off in the 20th century have been framed around the concept of ‘sustainable development’. The ecological pressure from human societies, however, has continued to rise since the Brundtland report (WCED, 1987), and the anthropocentric sustainability discourse has proven to be problematic (Purser et al., 1995; McShane, 2007). At the core of the conventional sustainability agenda is an instrumental view of the non-human world, empirically unfounded ideas of technological salvation, and the premise of ‘substitutability’ between human and natural capitals (e.g. Bonnedahl and Eriksson, 2007; Heikkurinen and Bonnedahl, 2013). This current trajectory of ‘progress’ is problematic not only as it reproduces inequalities and jeopardises future wellbeing of humans but also from an ecocentric perspective, which sees non-humans as intrinsically valuable (see Heikkurinen, 2017).

This is a call for authors that wish to present alternatives and challenge today’s unsustainable societies. We welcome manuscripts that investigate and advance pathways for humanity that are realistic in the ecological sense, ethical in an inclusive manner, and wise in terms of comprehension of the task’s magnitude and urgency.

We therefore highly appreciate proposals that confront the traditional anthropocentric ethos and ontology, mainstream economic growth-dogma, programmes of ecological modernism, and assumptions of weak sustainability. We invite manuscripts on different levels of analysis, from the individual to the biosphere, as well as both conceptual and empirical contributions. Papers can address the economic or financial system, certain discourses or practices, changes in key sectors, delve into alternative lifestyles or into experiences of local and native societies. Authors may also examine the human–nature or inter-species relations or deal with question of needs, wealth and intra- or intergenerational justice. In the task of imagining the required modes for organising human activity in societies, the common thread that will run through the chapters is the premise of strong sustainability (see e.g. Holland, 1997; Neumayer, 2002).

The submitted chapters will be considered for publication in a book with the preliminary title as above within the Routledge-Earthscan Environment and Sustainability portfolio.

If you have any questions related to the book, please contact us. Send your abstract of 500-1000 words by email to p.heikkurinen(at)leeds.ac.uk or karl.bonnedahl(at)umu.se by the 30th of January 2017. The final chapter manuscript is limited to 10,000 words and will be due on the 1st of June 2017.

Book Editors:

Karl Johan Bonnedahl, Umeå University, Sweden

Pasi Heikkurinen, University of Leeds, UK

References

Bonnedahl, K. J., & Eriksson, J. (2007) Sustainable economic organisation: simply a matter of reconceptualisation or a need for a new ethics?. International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development, 2(1): 97-115.

Goodland, R., & Daly, H. (1996) Environmental sustainability: universal and non-negotiable. Ecological Applications, 6(4): 1002-1017.

Daly, H. E. (2005) Economics in a Full World. Scientific American, 293(3): 100-107.

Heikkurinen, P. (ed.) (2017) Sustainability and Peaceful Coexistence for the Anthropocene. Routledge: New York and London.

Heikkurinen, P., & Bonnedahl, K. J. (2013) Corporate responsibility for sustainable development: a review and conceptual comparison of market- and stakeholder-oriented strategies. Journal of Cleaner Production, 43: 191-198.

Holland, A. (1997) Substitutability: Or, why strong sustainability is weak and aburdly strong sustainability is not absurd. In: Foster, J. (ed.), Valuing Nature? Ethics, Economics and the Environment, p. 119–134. Routledge: London.

McKibben, B. (1989) The End of Nature. Anchor: New York.

McShane, K. (2007) Anthropocentrism vs. nonanthropocentrism: Why should we care?. Environmental Values, 16(2), 169-186.

Purser, R. E., Park, C., & Montuori, A. (1995) Limits to anthropocentrism: Toward an ecocentric organization paradigm?. Academy of Management Review, 20(4): 1053-1089.

Neumayer, E. (2002) Weak versus Strong Sustainability: Exploring the Limits of Two Opposing Paradigms. Edward Edgar Publishing: London.

WCED (1987) Our Common Future. Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. United Nations: New York.