The scope of the Erb Institute’s research mission can be illuminated by reference to the larger scientific research agenda involving issues of sustainability. In recent years, researchers from the natural and social sciences have begun to recognize the emergence of a field coming to be referred to as “sustainability science,” and have identified a set of seven core questions. Four of these questions are related to the institutional environment within which business operates, and the Erb Institute seeks to address these questions. They include:
- How can the dynamic interactions between nature and society – including lags and inertia – be better incorporated into emerging models and conceptualizations that integrate the Earth system, human development, and sustainability?
- How are long-term trends in environment and development, including consumption and population, reshaping nature-society interactions in ways relevant to sustainability?
- What systems of incentive structures – including markets, rules, norms, and scientific information – can most effectively improve social capacity to guide interactions between nature and society toward more sustainable trajectories?
- How can today’s operational systems for monitoring and reporting on environmental and social conditions be integrated or extended to provide more useful guidance for efforts to navigate a transition toward sustainability?