Introduction to Complexity Science: On my desire to deepen my understanding of the complexity of sustainability lifestyles

Every day I see myself confronted with the same challenging question: “ hinders people to live more sustainably and what can be my contribution to help overcoming the barriers to let them adopt more sustainable lifestyles?" As a current Master student of Sustainable Development: Energy & Resources at Utrecht University I am excited and passionate to accept this challenge. I am currently devoting my master thesis on food wastage in Dutch households, presenting a complex interaction with environmental implications and behavioural aspects for stimulating change. Beginning of November 2014, I attended a summer school in Barcelona dedicated to sustainable lifestyles transitions. Similar to complexity being used as a buzzword, so is sustainability. Its concept is all-inclusive and its boundaries when used in different contexts frequently unclear. To me, complexity manifests as the challenge of sustainable development for the required widespread adoption of mindful human activities. While it was frequently stated that unsustainabilities can be overcome by technical innovation and thus the dominant contribution of natural sciences and engineering, the focus has more and more shifted to acknowledging the importance of individual human lifestyles transitions.

In memory of a remarkable course on Sustainable Development: Integrating Perspectives by Bert de Vries, henceforth I believe that sustaining solutions can only be found with inclusive systems thinking, trans- and inter-disciplinary in nature.

Aside this background, I am very excited to work together with inspiring colleagues from particularly Eastern cultures in which holistic systems thinking has found its roots already several millennia ago. In conclusion, I would like to receive the opportunity of joining an inter-disciplinary team, working together to find inspirations for my prospective work as a PhD student on behavioural changes and sustainability lifestyles in response to demanding questions such as the following:

  1. How to adapt systems to stimulate adaptive changes from an individual perspective?

  2. How can models and simulation tools be designed to study sustainability lifestyle behaviour of people in complex systems?

  3. How can evolutionary algorithms contribute to a better understanding of how sustainable lifestyle practices replicate over time?