The purpose of Sorbonne Sustainable Development is to train a new generation of researchers and decision-makers that will have the disciplinary expertise and the interdisciplinary knowledge fit to address and solve the societal challenges posed by sustainable development.
There is a global consensus about what these challenges are. They are summed up by the 17 sustainable development goals agreed upon by world leaders gathered at the UN sustainable development summit in September 2015. However, large parts of the scientific basis, of the technologies, of the institutions and of the human capital required to address these challenges are missing. Sorbonne Sustainable Development will contribute directly to progress in science and education and indirectly to the emergence of socio-economic, institutional and technological innovations in this direction.
From the scientific perspective, each of the 17 sustainable development goal poses specific challenges, but there also are cross-cutting conceptual and methodological issues.
First, in order to ground more deeply interdisciplinary research into academic disciplines, one requires the development of shared definitions among disciplines of high-level concepts such as collective action, intertemporal and intergenerational choice, responsibility of organizations.
Second, one needs major advances in modeling to investigate the interactions between the short and the long term, the local and the global scales, the environmental and the socio-economic spheres.
Third, the availability of exponentially large datasets about both socio-economic activities and environmental dynamics represents a tremendous opportunity to understand social transformations that can only be seized by the deployment of cutting-edge ICT technologies in social science research.