In 1987, the United Nations’ Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Subsequently the UN codified 17 more specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) designed to bring peace and prosperity to the lives of all present and future people around the world by 2030. SDG 13, for example, calls for mitigating the hazardous man-made effects of climate change and SDGs 14 and 15 call for more sustainable practices in using the earth’s natural resources in the oceans and on land, respectively. Unfortunately, human behavior and formal and informal institutions at the individual and collective level have not moved us closer to many of these goals. A livable climate is just one of nine planetary boundaries (including biodiversity and freshwater availability) that human behavior is putting into jeopardy, while also distributing material resources like income and energy access in increasingly inequitable ways, both within and between countries.
While technological, economic, and sociopolitical solutions to advance a sustainable future exist, vast status-quo bias, personal and organizational inertia, and active opposition by vested interests prevent their implementation. Finding ways to change the behavior of individuals, households, and public and private sector organizations to better align with the human species’ long-term existence and well-being on planet Earth is an “all-hands-on-deck” challenge that requires cooperation and creative collaboration between a broad range of social and physical sciences, the humanities, engineering, and more. The Fung Global Fellows Program encourages early-career academics from outside the United States to bring their disciplinary perspectives and geographical or sectoral concerns about sustainable futures to Princeton and to work with each other and existing research initiatives at Princeton to advance their research goals.
Some relevant centers, institutes, departments, and programs at Princeton are listed here.
Elke U. Weber
Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment
Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University
Please visit our Call for Applications webpage for more information about the application process and requirements.