Sustainability Science

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 431–438 | Cite as

Sustainability science: the changing landscape of sustainability research

  • Yuya Kajikawa
  • Francisco Tacoa
  • Kiyohiro Yamaguchi
Special Feature: Original Article New Directions in Sustainability Science


Sustainability science is a rapidly expanding field, particularly given the current ecological crises facing many parts of the globe today. To generate a snapshot of the state of sustainability science, we analyzed the current status of sustainability research using citation and text analysis. By reflecting social needs on sustainability science and the increasing number of publications in this field, the landscape is expected to change during the last decade. Our results indicate that previously separated research clusters investigating discipline-focused issues are becoming integrated into those studying coupled systems. We also found the existence of hub clusters bridging different clusters like socio-ecological systems and transition management. We also observed a variety of other emerging research clusters, especially in energy issues, technologies, and systems. Overall, our analysis suggests that sustainability science is a rapidly expanding and diversifying field, which has affected many disparate scientific disciplines and has the potential to feed scientific understanding on socio-ecological systems and to drive society toward transition for sustainability.


Sustainability science Research on research Citation network Overview map Network analysis 



We thank Prof. Kensuke Fukushi and Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi at The University of Tokyo for their encouraging discussions. We also thank the helpful and constructive comments raised by anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuya Kajikawa
    • 1
  • Francisco Tacoa
    • 2
  • Kiyohiro Yamaguchi
    • 2
  1. 1.Graduate School of Innovation ManagementTokyo Institute of TechnologyTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Institute of Engineering Innovation, School of EngineeringThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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