In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Milutin Stojanovic (University of Helsinki) will give a talk titled “Is there a crisis in sustainability research?“.

The seminar takes place in hybrid format in person and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 18th of September 2023. To join the seminar, please contact for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.


Integrity of the planetary bio-physical systems on which the human and other species depend for survival and the sustainability of their destruction by human socio-economic systems have recently become the main challenges delegated to the modern science. As science historically both contributed to a large extent to the environmental destruction and devoted little attention to the problem, the new challenge was to harness the existing tools and create new knowledge-production and institutional capacities which would enable the science to successfully represent and intervene in this unprecedently complex system. As a result, sustainability research emerged, mostly employing the established scientific capacities, integrating them, and hoping for evolution. Three decades later, the problem this paper tackles is that we have very little and partial information on the success of this epic scientific undertaking. Yet it is crucial to evaluate its current state to develop the field further. The present study will first make a systematic account of the actual state of Sustainability Research (SR), accounting the scattered meta-reviews of research dynamics in published SR and analyses of its key scientific features. I will signal the signs of a crisis in quality within the field and explore the ways it is navigated. Second, the paper will explore how the replicability crisis in the key disciplines engaged in interdisciplinary SR affect the field, together with the wider institutional framework and its narratives. Emphasis will be on modeling the value of novel discoveries, the operating standards of success in science, and signaling the need for well-ordering the aims and methods of the institution. Finally, building on the previous meta-science analyses, I analyze three problematic trends in SR and discuss how they square off with a SR-specific idea of well-ordered science. 

Keywords: sustainability research, crisis in science, meta-science, systems thinking, well-ordered science. 

Relevant background articles: 

Author bio:

Milutin Stojanovic is a post-doctoral researcher at the Practical Philosophy department, University of Helsinki, specializing in philosophy of sustainability science. His research spans various areas, including crisis in science, systems thinking, meta-science, methodological misconduct, and well-ordered science. His work has been featured in prestigious journals such as European Journal for Philosophy of Science, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, and Sustainability Science. Stojanovic is particularly interested in systemic approaches to sustainability, the role of normative considerations in shaping research methodologies and evidence, and addressing the quality crisis in modern science.