EME 807
Technologies for Sustainability Systems

11.0 Overview



Analysis of sustainability systems requires broad knowledge of technologies that provide for the urgent needs of society. But, even more so, it requires well-balanced thinking that encompasses causal connections and factors both within and outside the apparent system boundary. How do we appropriately account for various environmental, economical, and social concerns? What strategy should we choose to promote sustainability ideas to society? Which technologies would be optimal for addressing local needs and building sustainable market? All these and other questions are subject to decisions at the levels of policy making, business development, and community development. In this lesson, we will study factors that influence human decision with respect to innovations and technology. In the end, we get to see that the human factor is a key leverage point that can control the dynamics of the whole sustainability system.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • identify the factors that affect human decisions with respect to innovation and technology;
  • set up a framework for collaborative decision making on a specific problem;
  • articulate the fundamentals of the Diffusion of Innovation theory;
  • analyze the role of the technologies in the dynamic feedback within the global sustainability context.


Business report: Network for Business Sustainability, Making Sustainable Choices. A Guide for Managers, 2012.

Website: Structural Decision Making, Compass Resource Management Ltd., 2014.

Journal article: Simpson, L., Community Informatics and Sustainability: Why Social Capital Matters, J. Community informatics, 1(2) (2005).

Book Chapter: Sterman, J.D., Sustaining Sustainability: Creating a Systems Science in a Fragmented Academy and Polarized World, in Sustainability Science: The Emerging Paradigm, Weinstein, M.P. and Turner, R.E. (Eds.), Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012.


If you have any questions while working through this Lesson, please post them to our Message Board forum in Canvas. You can use that space any time to chat about course topics or to ask questions. While you are there, please feel free to post your own responses if you are able to help out a classmate.