Vulnerability and resilience: Coalescing or paralleling approaches for sustainability science?

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318 Scopus citations


Vulnerability and resilience constitute different but overlapping research themes embraced by sustainability science. As practiced within this science, the two research themes appear to coalesce around one of the foundational pivots of sustainability, the coupled human-environment system. They differ in regard to their attention to two other pivots, environmental services and the tradeoffs of these services with human outcomes. In this essay I briefly review the emergence of sustainability science and the three foundational pivots relevant to vulnerability and resilience. I outline the distinctions and similarities between the two research themes foremost as practiced within sustainability science and especially in regard to the attention given to the three pivots. I conclude with the observation that improvement in the capacity of vulnerability and resilience research to inform sustainability science may hinge on their linkages in addressing tradeoffs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-576
Number of pages7
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Coupled human-environment system
  • Environmental services
  • Resilience
  • Sustainability
  • Tradeoffs
  • Vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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