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The multiple identities of sustainable development: Towards a convergent definition

Special issue call for papers from World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development

Submit your contribution

Guest Editors

Prof. Beverlee B. Anderson and Dr. Catalin Ratiu
California State University San Marcos, USA

Deadline for paper submission: 1st March 2015

We are pleased to announce this Call for Papers for the forthcoming special issue of the World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development. The focus of this special issue will be on the definitions and identity of sustainable development.

The meanings of sustainability and sustainable development continue to be debated by scholars and professionals alike. Despite significant efforts, a clear unifying definition of sustainability continues to elude us. 

In a recent paper, we surveyed how academics, governments, trade professionals and the general public view sustainable development and show that, while most of these actors set priorities around various salient dimensions, there is little convergence around how to formulate and implement strategies in this area (Ratiu & Anderson, 2014). Furthermore, despite decades of interest, we show that the general public is yet to be fully educated on the accepted dimensions of sustainability.

While the use of the concept has increased to the point of becoming a buzzword, it’s meaning has flattened and has become synonymous with anything that is either good or neutral (Károly, 2013). Attempts to understand what sustainability means and to integrate it in our lives have been numerous.  Of all the conferences held every year, many now have at least some sections dedicated to sustainability topics.  Similarly, the publications, books, and articles covering various aspects of sustainability have increased tremendously.

Still, an increase in interest and use of this concept has not brought a better understanding of it.  Morelli (2013) explains that the concept has been transformed from scientifically definable to a notion open to interpretation by anyone. As a result, individuals and organizations struggle to define it.  Károly goes even further by stating that “the expression has been inflated, overused, misused, and abused” (2013:1). In some cases, such as the issue of climate change, the concept has become a cultural artifact susceptible to belief instead of proof (Hoffman, 2010). Finally, many organizations consider this a powerful fad that should be employed for reputational benefits (Tetrault Sirsly & Lamertz, 2008).

At the same time, however, many organizations in different fields have increased their efforts to operate in a less harmful way towards the environment. Yet that ideal of a collaborative environment among multiple stakeholders is still intangible (Melhus & Patton, 2012). We cannot overstate the importance of developing meaning based on a shared understanding of what sustainability means. Undeniably, sustainability has become a global strategic imperative, which leads governments to develop policies and corporations to formulate strategies. Also affected are new infrastructure investments, new products and services, practices regarding human resources, and time horizons for future investments. These changes now take into account how each professional group defines sustainability and what is considered pertinent to future opportunities.

We seek papers that address the issues associated with understandings and of how to move towards convergence in defining sustainable development.  The papers may be conceptual, empirical, or cases.

World Journal of Science Technology and Sustainable Development is published by Emerald Group Publishing in association with the World Association for Sustainable Development (WASD). For further information please see the journal homepage.

Information and Instructions for Submissions:

The deadline for submissions is 1st March 2015.

Submissions to this Special Issue should be made online using ScholarOne Manuscripts: To submit your paper you must first create an author account at   then follow the on-screen guidance which takes you through the submission process. Please Note: At the 'please select the type of issue' (step 4) please highlight “Identities of sustainable development” in the dropdown list.

Articles should be between 3,000 and 5,000 words in length.

Review Process:  Each paper will be reviewed by the guest editors and, if it is judged suitable for this publication, it is then sent to at least two independent referees for double blind peer review. Based on their recommendation, as well as consultation between relevant Editorial Board members, the editor then decides whether the paper should be accepted as is, revised or rejected. - See more at:

For detailed Author Guidelines and further information on the journal, please visit the journal homepage:

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be submitted for consideration for publication elsewhere, while under review for this journal.

If you would like to discuss any ideas you may have for a paper, or if you have any further enquiries, please contact the Guest Editors

Prof. Beverlee B. Anderson -
Dr. Catalin Ratiu –
California State University San Marcos, USA


Hoffman, A.J. (2010). Climate change as a cultural and behavioral issue: Addressing barriers and implementing solutions, Organizational Dynamics, 39(4): 295-305.

Károly, K. (2013). Rise and fall of the concept sustainability. Journal of Environmental Sustainability, 1(1): 1–12.

Melhus, P. & Paton, B. (2013). The Paradox of Multi-Stakeholder Collaborations: Insights from Sustainable Silicon Valley’s Regional CO2 Emissions Reduction Program. Journal of Environmental Sustainability, 2(2): 29–44.

Morelli, J. (2013). Environmental sustainability: A definition for environmental professionals. Journal of Environmental Sustainability, 1(1):1–9.

Ratiu & Anderson, B.B. (2014). The identity crisis of sustainable development. World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, 11(1): 4–15.

Tetrault Sirsly, C.A. & Lamertz, K. (2008). When Does a Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative Provide a First-Mover Advantage? Business & Society, 47(3): 343-369.