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Special Issue "The Human Factor in Designing Sustainable Systems"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 9163

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Lluis Oviedo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Theology, Pontificia Università Antonianum, 00185 Roma RM, Italy
Interests: new scientific study of religion; theological and scientific anthropologies; sustainable systems
Prof. Dr. Sara Lumbreras
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Research in Technology (IIT), ICAI School of Engineering, Comillas Pontifical University, 28015 Madrid, Spain
Interests: power systems; transmission expansion planning; offshore wind farm design; stochastic programming
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Hans-Ferdinand Angel
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Karl-Franzens-University Graz, 8010 Graz, Austria
Interests: creditions; processes and functions of believing; dynamics of formation of beliefs; believing processes and decision making

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As highlighted in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (and recently, in Horizon Europe), it is imperative to rethink sustainability from an integral and practical perspective. Among the many elements that will underlie our transformation towards sustainability, there are key human factors such as beliefs and social preferences, as well as behavioral aspects. This Special Issue is dedicated to presenting and discussing these human components, which have gone through a deep transformation in the recent pandemic.

In the context of the energy transition, we find that the awareness of our connection to each other and the environment could, for instance, fuel support for renewable energies, which can provide a cleaner alternative to other technologies. In addition, the value of independence and resilience has been highlighted in recent years, and especially during the coronavirus crisis. From being able to produce masks to energy, distributed resources, multilevel planning, and balancing independence and coordination should be key in the post-covid era. This can have deep implications with respect to the specific technological options that will be deployed, for instance, in distributed electricity generation.

A crucially important matter is the reduction in consumption that has taken place during the lockdown months, which adds to the trend of mindful consumption. This adds to the possibility of a degrowth economy where social welfare is not compromised.

Future development will depend on one human component, namely, the human capacity to believe. In recent years, the processes and functions of the believing processes have become a topic of interdisciplinary research. This sheds light onto the issue of how people organize their beliefs about sustainability and how believing processes influence the interaction between perception and action.

All these elements will interact and reshape our understanding of sustainability and determine the targets and policies that we will witness in the next decades This Special Issue welcomes original articles dealing with these or other related issues, incorporating the new perspective on sustainability that the pandemic is shaping worldwide.

This Special Issue welcomes articles on the following points and others related to the human factor in sustainability:

  • Sustainability and beliefs;
  • Social support for renewables, distributed generation, and demand response in electricity markets;
  • Social support for reducing consumption, reusing, and recycling;
  • A degrowth economy and its social impact;
  • Mindful consumption;
  • Sustainability and justice.

Short information to those who sent abstracts:

The aim of this special issue is to highlight the human factor in the sustainability discussion (cf. website). Do you refer in your paper to the following topics?

  • mindset
  • change of mindset
  • motivation
  • learning
  • expectation
  • decision-making
  • (relevance of) emotion(s)
  • hopes and desire
  • beliefs and belief formation

We hope that the checklist can be helpful for preparing your paper.
As model can be used the article

Hannes Hick, Hans-Ferdinand Angel, Philipp Kranabitl, Jolana Wagner-Skacel: Decision-Making and the Influence of the Human Factor, in: Hannes Hick, Klaus Küpper, Helfried Sorger (Eds): Systems Engineering for Automotive Powertrain Development, Springer 2021

Prof. Lluis Oviedo
Prof. Dr. Sara Lumbreras
Prof. Dr. Hans-Ferdinand Angel
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • human behaviour
  • social dimensions
  • beliefs
  • degrowth economy
  • consumption
  • education
  • social impact

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
The Human Factor in Transmission Network Expansion Planning: The Grid That a Sustainable Energy System Needs
Sustainability 2022, 14(11), 6746; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14116746 - 31 May 2022
Viewed by 811
Abstract
The decarbonization of the energy sector puts additional pressure on the transmission network. The main cause for this is that renewable sources are often more abundant in geographical areas far away from the main demand centers, so new transmission lines are required to [...] Read more.
The decarbonization of the energy sector puts additional pressure on the transmission network. The main cause for this is that renewable sources are often more abundant in geographical areas far away from the main demand centers, so new transmission lines are required to connect the new renewable energy capacity. In addition, by connecting different geographical zones, the transmission network could smooth the intermittency and the variability of renewable energy production. Thus, the changing energy landscape leads to a need to reinforce the transmission network through the Network Transmission Expansion Planning. Ideally, all the idiosyncrasies of the electricity system are considered in the operation and expansion planning process. However, several critical dimensions of the planning process are routinely ignored since they may introduce parameters that are difficult to quantify and complexity that state-of-the-art planning methods cannot handle. This paper identifies the most relevant elements related to the human factor, which have been grouped around the main topics: the human behind the technical, the human at the institutional level, and the human at the individual level. This paper also provides an additional formulation that can be used to upgrade existing models to include the human element and discusses the implications of these upgrades. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Human Factor in Designing Sustainable Systems)
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Article
Technological Sustainability and Artificial Intelligence Algor-ethics
Sustainability 2022, 14(6), 3215; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14063215 - 09 Mar 2022
Viewed by 1225
Abstract
Since 2018, a new terminology has been developed, called Algor-ethics, indicating the necessity for a dedicated study concerning the evaluation of an ethics applied to technology, to Algorithms and to Artificial Intelligence (AI). At the same time, since 1987, when the concept of [...] Read more.
Since 2018, a new terminology has been developed, called Algor-ethics, indicating the necessity for a dedicated study concerning the evaluation of an ethics applied to technology, to Algorithms and to Artificial Intelligence (AI). At the same time, since 1987, when the concept of sustainability was introduced, the discussion on this issue has become increasingly lively and has now spread to every area of life. In this paper, we would like to propose an application of the concept of sustainability to technological processes and in particular to the elaboration of AI systems. To reach this goal we will first try to build an ethical framework, here called Dynamical Techno-Algor-Ethical Composition, to define the interaction between the most important ethical ingredients involving the human person in relation to technology, taking a person-centered approach. Out of this will emerge a possible structure and definition of Technological Sustainability. The second step will consist of evaluating the process for the elaboration of an AI algorithm as a concrete application of the previously analyzed framework, to set ethical contents composing what we might call a good and sustainable algorithm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Human Factor in Designing Sustainable Systems)
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Article
Pedagogical Ecology for an Alternative Sustainability: With Insights from Francis of Assisi and Contemporary Life Sciences
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1395; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031395 - 26 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1388
Abstract
Sustainability is a widely discussed issue nowadays. The “human factor” appears to be the key to a suitable theory of sustainable development and, even more, to understanding the real scope of the issue at stake. We begin by highlighting that the issue of [...] Read more.
Sustainability is a widely discussed issue nowadays. The “human factor” appears to be the key to a suitable theory of sustainable development and, even more, to understanding the real scope of the issue at stake. We begin by highlighting that the issue of sustainability and the related ecological crisis ultimately stem from the fundamental view of the human–environment relationships. We tackle such a fundamental view from two apparently distant but converging perspectives: the one of Francis of Assisi (the patron saint of ecologists) and the one of contemporary advancements in evolutionary biology known as the “extended evolutionary theory” (EES). This will allow us to highlight how current life sciences ground a strong form of organism–environment complementarity—a core point for any allegedly comprehensive approach to sustainability and ecology. After that, we focus on recent developments in cultural evolution studies that see culture both as the driving force of (recent) human evolution and as the general context where the human–environment relationships take place and develop. Therefore, we argue that the environment exerts a powerful pedagogical influence on the human being and on humanity as a whole. We conclude by proposing a pedagogical criterion for ecology and sustainable development, according to which the modifications caused by the human being to the environment must be assessed (also) for their pedagogical import. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Human Factor in Designing Sustainable Systems)
Article
The Missing Piece in Sustainability Indices: Accounting for the Human Factor
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11796; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111796 - 26 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1120
Abstract
Sustainability is the result of a complex combination of factors. Social, cultural and personal elements are key for the pursuit of a sustainable future. Beyond the existing, very broad program on sustainability studies, additional research should contribute to specify how those social and [...] Read more.
Sustainability is the result of a complex combination of factors. Social, cultural and personal elements are key for the pursuit of a sustainable future. Beyond the existing, very broad program on sustainability studies, additional research should contribute to specify how those social and human factors affect sustainability indices. General beliefs, values, attitudes, habits, assumed lifestyles or even meaning systems projecting purpose on one’s own life have an impact on sustainability as well. Our aim in this paper is to describe these factors, which we group under the label of ‘sustainability human factors’. This task requires a multidisciplinary effort involving anthropology, psychology and social sciences, covering cognitive, emotional or cultural dimensions. First, we set the stage describing the expected network of features and traits that could describe the human factor. Second, we propose a model which can help to assess it through multiple scales and surveying instruments. These instruments can provide valuable data that could expand the current indices. It is important to connect our program with the ongoing research in this field and to develop a broad model that highlights the human factor and its central role when planning for a sustainable future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Human Factor in Designing Sustainable Systems)
Article
Multiple Criteria Decision-Making as an Operational Conceptualization of Energy Sustainability
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11629; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111629 - 21 Oct 2021
Viewed by 908
Abstract
There is a broad international consensus about the urgency of promoting a strong change towards energy models that are less dependent on non-renewable energy sources, more equitable, and truly environmentally friendly. In order to achieve this goal, we need to define the problem [...] Read more.
There is a broad international consensus about the urgency of promoting a strong change towards energy models that are less dependent on non-renewable energy sources, more equitable, and truly environmentally friendly. In order to achieve this goal, we need to define the problem so that it can be operationally and comprehensively addressed. This paper presents a proposal of a framework for the analysis of the sustainability of energy models based on multiple criteria theory, which we consider comprehensive and operational enough. Its application to a real energy model, the Spanish one, shows that the framework is able to address most of the elements both of weak and strong sustainability and find a reasonable compromise within the limits of the problem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Human Factor in Designing Sustainable Systems)
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Article
Decision Making for Sustainable Technical Applications with the SMH Approach
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8702; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168702 - 04 Aug 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1077
Abstract
Decision making is becoming more and more challenging due to the rise in complexity of modern technical products. A lot of industries are currently at a crossroads, and a wrong strategic or technical decision may have disastrous consequences for the future of the [...] Read more.
Decision making is becoming more and more challenging due to the rise in complexity of modern technical products. A lot of industries are currently at a crossroads, and a wrong strategic or technical decision may have disastrous consequences for the future of the company. Within this paper, the SMH approach, that supports decision making processes to put emphasis on sustainable solutions regarding strategic and technical aspects, is introduced. SMH is an acronym that stands for a decision making approach that includes systems thinking (S), model-based systems engineering (M) and the human factor (H). This approach deals with the challenge to consider overall boundary conditions and interactions of the system, the decision which models need to be built in order to have the best data support possible, and the identification what influence the human factor plays in analyzing the data and the consequent decision making based on it. The importance of the human factor is often neglected in technical processes, which may lead to costly mistakes. This theoretical approach is applied to the use case of a chief executive officer (CEO) who has to decide on allocation of research and development (R&D) resources to future powertrain technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Human Factor in Designing Sustainable Systems)
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Article
Applying Talent Quality-Management System (TTQS) to Enhance Information Literacy, Learning Motivation, and Computational Thinking Competency of Nursing Undergraduates
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6528; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126528 - 08 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1648
Abstract
In Taiwan, the Ministry of Education started promoting computational thinking (CT) and design skills in the programming curriculum in 2018 at all universities. CT, which has been widely discussed in the field of education, is the ability to solve problems that use computer [...] Read more.
In Taiwan, the Ministry of Education started promoting computational thinking (CT) and design skills in the programming curriculum in 2018 at all universities. CT, which has been widely discussed in the field of education, is the ability to solve problems that use computer science concepts. For students in non-information technology fields, such as nursing students, a curriculum that integrates nursing education and information literacy can bolster evidence-based practice, enhance professional development, and encourage lifelong learning. However, the programming courses were difficult for non-information learners to apprehend, given their lack of knowledge in programming, and had a low attrition rate. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a sustainable management system in the learning process. It is also important to support the interest and confidence of the nursing learner in the programming curriculum. In this study, a programming course for nursing students was completed. A talent quality-management system (TTQS) for this programming course was built and implemented. A technology acceptance model and learning attitude questionnaires were administered to investigate learners’ learning motivation and information literacy. Two nursing classes with 74 freshmen participated in the curriculum in the second semester of the 2020 academic year. The results showed that TTQS, which supports teachers in adjusting pedagogy in a timely manner, can enhance learners’ motivation and performance. In this programming course, nursing students can learn CT and information concepts and improve their learning motivation through the design of learner-centred and collaborative learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Human Factor in Designing Sustainable Systems)
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