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Foundations for Sustainability - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128114605, 9780128116449

Foundations for Sustainability

1st Edition

A Coherent Framework of Life–Environment Relations

Authors: Daniel Fiscus Brian Fath
Paperback ISBN: 9780128114605
eBook ISBN: 9780128116449
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 16th November 2018
Page Count: 292
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Foundations for Sustainability: A Coherent Framework of Life-Environment Relations challenges existing assumptions on environmental issues and lays the groundwork for a new paradigm, bringing a greater understanding of what is needed to help create an environmentally and economically sustainable future, which to date has been an uphill battle and not an obvious choice. The book presents the case for a paradigm based on a multi-model of life as organism, life as ecosystem, and life as biosphere, as opposed to the singular assumption that life can be viewed solely as an organism.

All backed with well-cited research from top investigators from around the world, this book is a must-have resource for anyone working in ecology, environmental science or sustainability.

Key Features

  • Introduces a holistic, systemic approach and a synthesis of the systemic root cause that underlies many surface symptoms that are part of individual environmental problems (climate, water, energy, etc.)
  • Complements current piecemeal approaches in order to solve many interconnected environmental problems which share root causes
  • Provides tests and thought experiments to challenge current views on sustainability, leveraging the power of critical thinking to find new solutions
  • Gives insights on how to find solutions by blending interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary focuses with disciplinary specialization in ecology and ecosystem science
  • Bridges concepts and methods from math to ecology to human development


Ecologists, environmental scientists, environmental managers, geographers, sustainability experts, biologists needing information on sustainability

Table of Contents

1. To Solve a Difficult Problem, Enlarge It
2. Life as the Basis of Value
3. Holistic Science of Life-Environment – Mutualistic Interfaces
4. Life: From Origins to Humans
5. Reforming Reductionism with Six Core Principles
6. Life Science Lessons from Ecological Networks and Systems Ecology
7. A Bridge Not Too Far: Spanning Theory to Science to Application
8. Technology and Applications in the Context of Holistic Life-Environment
9. Sustainability: A Goal for All


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2018
16th November 2018
Academic Press
Paperback ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

About the Authors

Daniel Fiscus

Dan Fiscus is a researcher in sustainability, systems ecology, food systems, and regenerative economics. He has degrees in electrical engineering, ecology with a minor in biomathematics, and a PhD in Environmental Science. He studies holistic, sustainable human-environment and life-environment relations, theoretical ecology and ecological modeling, ecological network analysis and sources of leverage for change to benefit humanity. He is also a member of the Western Maryland Food Council, which works to increase local food production and for systemic change and improvement to the food system in the Western Maryland region. Dan also collaborates with colleagues in the Research Alliance for Regenerative Economics (RARE).

Affiliations and Expertise

Western Maryland Food Council and Research Alliance for Regenerative Economics

Brian Fath

Brian D. Fath is Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Towson University (Maryland, USA) and Senior Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Laxenburg, Austria). He has published over 180 research papers, reports, and book chapters on environmental systems modeling, specifically in the areas of network analysis, resilience, and sustainability. He co-authored the books Foundations for Sustainability: A Coherent Framework of Life–Environment Relations (2018) and Flourishing Within Limits to Growth: Following nature’s way (2015). He is also Editor-in-Chief for the journal Ecological Modelling. Dr. Fath was the 2016 recipient of the Prigogine Medal for outstanding work in systems ecology, and held a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at Parthenope University (Naples, Italy) in 2012.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor, Towson University, MD, USA Senior Research Scholar, Advanced Systems Analysis Program, IIASA, Austria


"Foundations for Sustainability is an important synthesis that points the way, along a long and rocky road, to an ultimate solution of humanity’s environmental problem." --Edward O. Wilson, Emeritus Professor, Harvard University

"By taking the big picture of our spaceship called planet Earth, and mixing this with modern ideas on ecology and energy flows, this wonderful little book is a must read for every free thinking individual. The writing is bright, fresh and easy, and the ideas are all worth pondering for days. The Book’s framework offers concrete sustainability pathways each embedded with a win-win philosophy." --Jaia Syvitski, former Director IGBP

"In clear and compelling language, the authors of this remarkable book present solid scientific and ethical foundations for a ‘science in service to Life,’ oriented unequivocally toward building a sustainable future. In view of the frequent co-option and distortion of the concept of sustainability, their effort could not be more timely. I recommend Foundations for Sustainability warmly to anyone concerned about the future of humanity." --Fritjof Capra, author of The Web of Life, coauthor of The Systems View of Life

"In this compelling call to "serve life", Fiscus and Fath have taken direct aim at the one thing holding us back from moving beyond industrialism: our inability to recognize the limits of our own beliefs. Drawing on an astonishingly broad and deep integration of science, philosophy, spirituality, and culture, they show us how to let go of the myths of modernity and embrace a fundamentally different relationship with each other and the planet nurtured by mutual understanding, cooperation, acceptance and unity." --Laura Lengnick, Author of Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate

"Fiscus and Fath provide a comprehensive and philosophical perspective on the holistic approach to ecosystems, and on the need to confront the interplay between the physical environment and life. They provide counterpoint to those such as me, for whom the complex adaptive system perspective views system-level properties as largely emergent from processes at much lower levels of organization, but feeding back to influence those lower-level interactions." --Simon Levin, Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University

"An ambitious work, Foundations for Sustainability is a radical challenge to the foundations of life science. Get ready to experience your mind stretch to see the connectedness of all life in new ways. Best of all, Fiscus and Fath help us see possibilities to address our planet’s greatest crises. Great for the general reader and professionals alike." --Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet and EcoMind

Ratings and Reviews