(pp.003-016) C. Ratiu and B. B. Anderson ‘Perspectives on sustainable development’, World Sustainable Development Outlook, 2014
Catalin Ratiu, California State University, USA
Beverlee B. Anderson, California State University, USA
Purpose The meaning of sustainability continues to be debated by scholars and professionals alike. But how do individuals, who are expected to contribute to implementing sustainability actions, perceive this important concept? The purpose of this paper is to explore how individuals relate to the multidimensionality of sustainability.
Methodology We use a qualitative design to learn how individuals understand and prioritise the various dimensions of sustainability. Respondents were asked to react in essay form to a narrative that weaves social, environmental, economic and legal issues, and offer a recommended course of action.
Research limitations The research is limited by the convenience sample used, which may offer a skewed distribution.
Findings The findings are mixed, showing that sustainability is yet to mature as a concept in the minds of the general public. Encouragingly, we find evidence that most respondents are aware of the primary dimensions of sustainability.
Originality The study uses an innovative methodology to learn how individuals perceive a very complex topic.
Implications While defining sustainability conceptually continues to preoccupy scholars and policymakers, educating the general public on these advancements should also be prioritised, given the high reliance on individuals to implement the many sustainability initiatives and innovations in existence.
Keywords Sustainable development, Triple bottom-line, Qualitative design