Sustainability Utilizing Social Science Theory: An Interdisciplinary Network


SUSSTAIN was founded by Elke Weber and Ruth Greenspan Bell in 2011. NSF provided core funding for SUSSTAIN, recognizing that the successful adoption of new energy technologies has a large human component beyond mere installation of physical equipment. SUSSTAIN seeks to demonstrate how insights from the behavioral and social sciences can be put to work on energy consumption challenges in real-world applications and to disseminate that learning and experience into the research, policy, and business communities in order to facilitate progress toward energy efficiency. Ultimately the policy objectives coalesce around climate change.

SUSSTAIN is an interdisciplinary, multi-institution network with diverse analytic skills. Researchers in the current network include specialists in the social sciences, law, policy and business from Columbia, Vanderbilt, Washington State and Clemson Universities, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Ultimately, SUSSTAIN seeks to expand its scope through partnerships, contributing its vision, scholarly leadership, unique policy outreach capabilities, and strong project management.

To date SUSSTAIN has assembled an analytic network, established partnerships with Avista, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, and the Department of Defense. Its progress has largely featured the initiation of demonstration projects in the domains of energy efficiency and infrastructure. It has multiple SUSSTAIN-assisted research projects underway at partner institutions including Washington State University, Vanderbilt University, and Clemson University. These projects include historical analysis papers, lab experiments, and online survey-based research.

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