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Sustainability 2014, 6(7), 4452-4469; doi:10.3390/su6074452
Article

Studying, Teaching and Applying Sustainability Visions Using Systems Modeling

1,2,* , 1
,
3
 and
1
1 School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA 2 Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA 3 School of Computational Information and Design Systems Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 May 2014 / Revised: 4 July 2014 / Accepted: 14 July 2014 / Published: 17 July 2014
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Abstract

The objective of articulating sustainability visions through modeling is to enhance the outcomes and process of visioning in order to successfully move the system toward a desired state. Models emphasize approaches to develop visions that are viable and resilient and are crafted to adhere to sustainability principles. This approach is largely assembled from visioning processes (resulting in descriptions of desirable future states generated from stakeholder values and preferences) and participatory modeling processes (resulting in systems-based representations of future states co-produced by experts and stakeholders). Vision modeling is distinct from normative scenarios and backcasting processes in that the structure and function of the future desirable state is explicitly articulated as a systems model. Crafting, representing and evaluating the future desirable state as a systems model in participatory settings is intended to support compliance with sustainability visioning quality criteria (visionary, sustainable, systemic, coherent, plausible, tangible, relevant, nuanced, motivational and shared) in order to develop rigorous and operationalizable visions. We provide two empirical examples to demonstrate the incorporation of vision modeling in research practice and education settings. In both settings, vision modeling was used to develop, represent, simulate and evaluate future desirable states. This allowed participants to better identify, explore and scrutinize sustainability solutions.
Keywords: participatory modeling; sustainable futures; transformational sustainability science; sustainability education; visioning; visions participatory modeling; sustainable futures; transformational sustainability science; sustainability education; visioning; visions
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Iwaniec, D.M.; Childers, D.L.; VanLehn, K.; Wiek, A. Studying, Teaching and Applying Sustainability Visions Using Systems Modeling. Sustainability 2014, 6, 4452-4469.

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