There is a general consensus that problems related to resources cannot be dealt with technically alone. Therefore, the relationship between the social organisation and the use of resources needs to be examined, especially regarding individual behaviour, the structures effective on the social level as well as the political, legal and economical framework conditions.
Behavioural and individual level
On the behavioural and individual level, the values, attitudes, interests, knowledge and incentives need to be examined. With a sustainable society in mind, sufficiency should be taken into account in addition to efficacy. Sufficiency describes a careful handling of the natural resources in support of their preservation also for future generations.
On the social level, established structures that entail path dependences and the organisation of material flows (circular economy, cradle-to-cradle economy) are of interest. Only if these path dependences are unlocked and the material flows organised in a way that the whole value chain, from raw material extraction to waste disposal, becomes part of the recycling process, can recyclable products and processes develop that protect the environment, that are healthy for human beings and reap economic benefits (Environmental Humanities).
Aims of the focus area sustainable use of resources
- Support and long-term strengthening of research projects at different universities in humanities and social sciences networks that deal with the resource issue;
- Visibility, integration and strengthening of this research area;
- Elaboration of a common research agenda in humanities and social sciences research on the topic of resources in Switzerland.