Humanity faces urgent, critical, and complex challenges in finding and moving on transformative pathways to more just, equitable, and sustainable futures, which can only be effectively addressed through substantive, meaningful dialogues and collaborative design processes. These active processes of mutual learning and designing for sustainable futures must bring together multiple sources of formal and practical knowledge through dialogues among scientists and humanities scholars, policy makers, civil society, NGOs, and business representatives. The challenges manifest themselves at multiple spatial and temporal scales across the world, thus requiring finding pathways and solutions that are locally appropriate in each culture and context, while simultaneously leading to coherent positive outcomes on a global scale.
As part of the IASS programmatic response to these challenges, the Global Sustainability Strategy Forum (GSSF) and the Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change Alliance (KLASICA) engage in dialogue with a wide range of stakeholder groups in complementary ways. One approach is seeking to understand what changes are needed in the fundamental role and nature of social and natural science and humanities scholarship to address adequately the complexity of societal and natural system change and then exploring the consequences for policy and practice in society. A complementary approach is seeking novel ways to understand the dynamics of social movements and collective behavior change toward sustainable futures through narrative expressions of vision and identity, recognizing not only the more general processes, but also the particular cultural and local distinctions.