Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 409–426 | Cite as

Holism and Understanding Sustainability

  • Simon BellEmail author
  • Stephen Morse


In work undertaken in both Malta and Lebanon we have been reflecting on the current means by which the international community apply concepts intended to achieve what is called “sustainable development.” In an attempt to make means and ends conform to each other we have developed a holistic approach to what is essentially a timeless need for understanding, systemic planning, and compassionate stewardship. This essay indicates that we may be closer to holistic means with which to realize these goals than we know. It describes how some planning and analysis methods have their origins in ancient traditions. However, the milieu in which sustainability occurs is often unsympathetic to and sometimes incompatible with the ideals of holism. The essay assesses the current understanding of sustainability and points to the need for a wider and more inclusive base to contemporary sustainability as practiced in the community.

Key Words

holism sustainability sustainable development systemic planning 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Open Systems Research Group, Systems DepartmentOpen UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  2. 2.Department of Geography, WhitenightsUniversity of ReadingReadingUK
  3. 3.Department of Geography, WhitenightsUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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