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Concept Paper

Science-Driven Societal Transformation, Part III: Design

Courtesy Faculty, Environmental Sciences Graduate Program, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 726; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020726
Received: 30 October 2020 / Revised: 31 December 2020 / Accepted: 7 January 2021 / Published: 13 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Social Ecology and Sustainability)
Climate change, biodiversity loss, and other major social and environmental problems pose severe risks. Progress has been inadequate and scientists, global policy experts, and the general public increasingly conclude that transformational change is needed across all sectors of society in order to improve and maintain social and ecological wellbeing. At least two paths to transformation are conceivable: (1) reform of and innovation within existing societal systems (e.g., economic, legal, and governance systems); and (2) the de novo development of and migration to new and improved societal systems. This paper is the final in a three-part series of concept papers that together outline a novel science-driven research and development program aimed at the second path. It summarizes literature to build a narrative on the topic of de novo design of societal systems. The purpose is to raise issues, suggest design possibilities, and highlight directions and questions that could be explored in the context of this or any R&D program aimed at new system design. This paper does not present original research, but rather provides a synthesis of selected ideas from the literature. Following other papers in the series, a society is viewed as a superorganism and its societal systems as a cognitive architecture. Accordingly, a central goal of design is to improve the collective cognitive capacity of a society, rendering it more capable of achieving and sustainably maintaining vitality. Topics of attention, communication, self-identity, power, and influence are discussed in relation to societal cognition and system design. A prototypical societal system is described, and some design considerations are highlighted. View Full-Text
Keywords: societal transformation; societal system; societal cognition; systems change; sustainability; climate change; biodiversity loss; active inference; free energy principle; cooperation; SAILS societal transformation; societal system; societal cognition; systems change; sustainability; climate change; biodiversity loss; active inference; free energy principle; cooperation; SAILS
MDPI and ACS Style

Boik, J.C. Science-Driven Societal Transformation, Part III: Design. Sustainability 2021, 13, 726. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020726

AMA Style

Boik JC. Science-Driven Societal Transformation, Part III: Design. Sustainability. 2021; 13(2):726. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020726

Chicago/Turabian Style

Boik, John C. 2021. "Science-Driven Societal Transformation, Part III: Design" Sustainability 13, no. 2: 726. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020726

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