Contemplative sustainable futures: The role of individual inner dimensions and transformation in sustainability research and education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


Humanity is facing increasingly complex sustainability challenges. It is now clear that they cannot be resolved by new technology, policy or governance approaches alone. They require a broader, cultural shift. Consequently, the role of human beings' "inner dimensions" (e.g., their mindsets, worldviews, beliefs, social values, and motivations) and their potential "inner transformation" (embodied in notions such as mindfulness and compassion) are increasingly attracting attention from practitioners and researchers alike. As a result, in 2015, the "Contemplative Sustainable Futures Program" was set up at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies to explore the role of inner dimensions and transformation for sustainability. It aims to create space and opportunities for learning, networking, and knowledge development on this topic, which entails the creation of closer linkages between sustainability and the humanities (e.g., philosophy, theology, spirituality). The Program consists of different building blocks, including research and teaching activities. This chapter presents the outcomes, as well as the institutional and academic challenges encountered in setting up the Program. The outcomes so far include the establishment of (i) a new Masters-level course on "Sustainability and Inner Transformation", (ii) an Experimental Learning Lab on mindfulness in sustainability science, practice, and teaching, (iii) a professional knowledge database and network, and (iv) different research studies and resultant frameworks for future, more integrated research. Finally, the lessons learned, ongoing gaps, and the future work needed to overcome these gaps are presented.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • Compassion well-being, Contemplation, Contemplative education, Inner transformation, Inner transition, Mindful climate action integral adaptation, Mindfulness, Sustainability science
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainability and the Humanities
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783319953366
ISBN (Print)9783319953359
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 22
Publication categoryResearch