STS - conferences, IST2012

Font Size: 
“Vision-meso-seeds” model towards sustainability transition - Concept and research agenda
Keishiro Hara, Michinori Uwasu, Shuji Kurimoto

Last modified: 2012-03-22


Growing numbers of promising visions of the future and scenarios that may lead toward building sustainable societies are being developed. At the same time, advanced technologies and research seeds that could increase the likelihood of achieving such visions are also being rigorously conceived. Even so, we face a number of challenges and barriers in achieving these visions due to large gaps between individual seeds and shared visions. In this paper we propose a “vision-meso-seeds” model for sustainability transition and demonstrate meso level research whose aim is to bridge the gap between promising seeds and societal visions, facilitating sustainability transition. We first summarize barriers that hinder the transition to sustainability, highlighting the disconnection between available seeds and shared visions. We then specify what we mean by “meso level” research in the vision-meso-seeds model, whose primary function is to explore gaps between individual science & technology seeds and societal visions and to fill those gaps. We demonstrate a case study to address research agenda for the model, by introducing a case: Japan’s strategy towards low-carbon society, in which the vast amount of waste heat in urban areas is fully utilized in a low-carbon society through use of advanced technologies such as thermoelectric conversion elements. Utilization of waste heat in urban areas is considered a key for low-carbon society in Japan. However, many aspects have to be taken into consideration in materializing the vision. In this case study, we clarify the specific components and functions of meso level research and address research agenda to further advance the vision-meso-seeds model. We finally discuss how meso level research through interdisciplinary collaboration at the university level will play an important role in advancing sustainability transition.