The concept of sustainability is inherently multi-disciplinary because it concerns the management of a complex system having economic, technological, ecological, political, and other perspectives. Consequently, any effort in the area of sustainability involves concepts, principles, and methods from engineering, the social sciences including economics and social psychology, the biological sciences including ecology, and the physical sciences. The purpose of this book is, therefore, to discuss in a coherent and comprehensive manner the salient concepts, principles, and methods relevant to sustainability from the perspective of different disciplines. Although there are number of books that have been recently published on the topic of sustainability, most of them do not cross the disciplinary boundaries, or at least address them as thoroughly as necessary. This book is different in that respect. It provides perspectives from ecology, environment, economics, social-sciences, policy, infrastructure, industrial ecology, engineering, and business written by experts trained and experienced in the respective disciplines.
The book is intended for a diverse audience ranging from undergraduate and graduate students from various disciplines, to researchers, academics, policy makers and practitioners. It is the objective of the current endeavor to provide to provide a timely source and reference material on sustainability. This book is primarily designed to serve as a reference book. However, it has also been used in a multidisciplinary undergraduate course on sustainability in Michigan Technological University with excellent feedback from the students, it may properly in any such course of instruction.
To readers in academia, the industries, and government organization alike, we hope that the ideas and pages that follow will give as much enjoyment and stimulation of creative interest as they have for us, the writers and editors, right from the day when we started working in this area.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
Vishwamitra Research Institute