Paradigms, Models, Scenarios and Practices for more sustainability

 While the notion of sustainability continues to be associated with the Brundtland Report (1987) and the concept of sustainable development, it is increasingly seeking to emancipate itself in order to provide a representation of the world that is consistent with the aspirations of the moment. Everything must be sustainable; agriculture, food, natural resources, biodiversity, water, energy, cities, territories, tourism... At the risk of falling into overkill and excess, our social model must be part of a strong sustainability and refuse any compromise with possible cover-ups (we can mention here green growth, green washing, decoupling or even the latest creation, sustainable innovation). 

This enthusiasm and its expectations for more sustainability go beyond the environmental framework. Indeed, if reducing our ecological footprint is a necessity, it is associated with other objectives (the famous SDGs) that claim a certain legitimacy. The eradication of poverty, the reduction of inequalities, access for all to education, electricity and water, the development of 100% renewable energy... are part of a political discourse, targets of major international institutions, but also demands from the world's citizens. The recent events in France, the movement of yellow vests, is an excellent illustration of this. Motivated by the increase in the domestic consumption tax on energy products, this movement has gradually been extended to other social demands (increase in purchasing power, maintenance of public services, improvement of democracy, etc.), and then spread to a large number of countries (Germany, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, United Kingdom, etc.). 

The call for papers intends to use these facts and expectations to question the paradigms, models, scenarios and practices that embody this thirst for sustainability. As curious as it may seem, subjects such as renewable energies, participatory democracy, organic farming and eco-cities did not wait to be driven by the wave of sustainability to claim certain practices or propose alternative representations. As a result, one may wonder what meaning should be given to the very idea of sustainability and the representations it conveys. 

     The organizers of the symposium intend to focus on the following themes, however, any proposal that raises debate or questions about sustainability will be carefully considered: 

1° How do the different sciences approach the question of sustainability, are there important differences between the Social Sciences, Engineering Sciences, Life and Earth Sciences? Do the Social Sciences have a unanimous and universal vision of sustainability or should we distinguish Economics (and their approach in terms of weak and strong sustainability) from the Communication Sciences or other Social Sciences (geography, sociology, anthropology...). This first theme aims to propose a collection of representations on sustainability and to initiate debates around an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary approach to sustainability. 

2° What are the dimensions and themes that embody or on the contrary escape the discourse on sustainability. This second theme also raises the question of new fields of sustainability (urban agriculture, sustainable cities, education for sustainability, sustainable mobility, gender, etc.) or measures reflecting a certain idea of sustainability (universal income, complementary currency, zero unemployment territories, etc.).

3° What are the paradigms that embody today the very idea of strong sustainability? By paradigm, we mean here a representation of the world or a way of seeing things based on a disciplinary matrix, a theoretical model, a current of thought, or even a set of so-called citizen practices. Should we position strong sustainability at the level of so-called alternative paradigms, such as Social and Solidarity Economy, Collaborative Economy, Economy of sharing, Ecodevelopment, Degrowth, Complexity’s theory, Buen vivir, Ecological Economics, Political Ecology, Industrial Ecology, Bioeconomy, Bio-baised Economy... or is it rather the simple return of utopias to the ideology of growth and technological progress? 

4° What are the models, methods and scientific tools that leave in off space for strong sustainability? The latter refers to the modelling of complex and dynamic systems. System thinking or system dynamics are often presented as appropriate methods to address system complexity (feedback loops, time effects and timelines) and sustainability at the global level (within the boundaries of the system under study). Tools such as Life Cycle Analysis, Material Flow Analysis Input-Ouput Analysis, Circles of Sustainability are also used in engineering and social sciences to define the notion of sustainability. Finally, some model such as World Model and Integrated Assessment Models (IAM) or propose to integrate energy, economic, climate and environmental issues (air quality, biodiversity, etc.) in order to suggest mitigation/ adaptation strategies to policy makers or long term scenarios (population, food, agriculture, natural resourceS). How do these models fit (or not) into a strong sustainability framework? 

5° Which scenarios by 2025, 2050 or 2100 most embody the idea of strong sustainability? Should scenarios such as green growth, steady state, degrowth or collapse be seen as ways of thinking (or not) about sustainability? What place should we give to the so-called utopian scenarios (100% renewable energies) and describing what we would like for the future in the face of the so-called pragmatic scenarios (the energy mix) and embodying an energy transition? Doesn't the idea of transition finally move us away from a strong sustainability scheme? It could even be seen as an abuse of weakness, distilled by lobbies that are not ready to make the radical changes necessary to move towards a better life society. 

6° How to finance this sustainability? If governments and major international institutions are investing in renewable energies, organic farming, positive energy buildings and sustainable mobility, the question arises today as to how to finance these actions and strategies. Taxes and subsidies (and more generally taxation), public spending (at national or European level), the reform of financial markets... or the implementation of an active monetary policy could all be tools that commit our societies to greater sustainability. 

7° How to assess sustainability? The latter is often put in tension, between scientific discourse, political debates and field practices. A sustainability assessment raises a set of questions and issues: What can be assessed (in terms of sustainability objectives)? Who can evaluate (in the sense of expertise)? How to evaluate (in terms of procedures, methods and indicators)?  

Proposals for papers in English or French should include a 250-350 word abstract, a title, the names of the authors and their institutions, their emails. They must be sent to us before 30 June 2019at the following address:  The final texts must be sent by 15 November 2019. A publication of papers will be proposed via two journals (Revue Francophone du développement durable and European Review on Sustainability and Degrowth) and a collective book. The conference is labelled Eurasmus +, it is part of the activities of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for Sustainability (ERASME), located at the UCA and on the site of Polytech Clermont Ferrand.







Proposals for papers in English or French should include a 350-500 word abstract, a title, the names of the authors and their institutions, their emails.

Abstract Deadline

Proposals must be received by June 30, 2019

Choice between Oral Presentation or Poster

Deadline for final texts

The final texts must be sent by 15 November 2019.


Two prizes will be awarded at the end of the Symposium: the Jean Monnet Prize for Sustainable Development for an expert researcher and the Donella Meadows Prize for Sustainable Development for a young female researcher. Researchers  who wish to candidate for these prizes must send their final text before 15 September 2019. For the winners, travel and  conference accomodations will be taken in charge. Beside, they will receive an invitation for a 15-day stay at the Jean Monnet Excellence Center for Sustainability (ERASME).


A publication of papers will be proposed via two journals (Revue Francophone du développement durable and European Review on Sustainability and Degrowth) and a collective book.

Labelling of the conference

The conference is labelled Eurasmus +, it is part of the activities of the Jean Monnet Excellence Center for Sustainability (ERASME), located at University of Clermont-Ferrand (Polytech, France).

Download the call for papers

Call for paper 2019


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