A Methodology to Evaluate Sustainability in the Face of Complex Dynamics: Implications for Field Studies in Sustainability Science

  • Niranji SatanarachchiEmail author
  • Takashi Mino


Sustainability as a concept has a strong link with the complexity and dynamic patterns of human–natural systems. Evaluating sustainability in human–natural systems requires paying attention to the observation process of these systems to adequately grasp complex dynamics. Failing to do so can result in poor recognition and translation of the sustainability/unsustainability patterns in them. In order to addressing this challenge the present chapter discusses a newly developed methodology to evaluate the sustainability of a human–natural system in a complex dynamic context, which may be useful when conducting sustainability science field exercises. This methodology pays particular attention to the complexities involved in the observation processes, and how awareness of such complexity would support reflexive and iterative understanding-based sustainability evaluations. Finally, the authors will discuss the basis of the evaluation methodology and how it can be applied to field research exercises in Sustainability Science.


Sustainability evaluation Human–natural systems Complexity A matrix-based methodology Reflexive and iterative understanding 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Program in Sustainability Science-Global Leadership Initiative, Graduate School of Frontier SciencesThe University of TokyoKashiwa, ChibaJapan

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