Sustainability and society

The “Sustainability and society” sector examines how to foster the transition toward a society that is more sustainable in terms of the utilisation of natural energy resources.

The availability of innovative and efficient technologies per se does not guarantee that the internationally established energy and climate objectives will be met. In fact, the transition toward sustainable and low carbon intensity societies requires clear changes to the daily choices made by the main social actors and in the lifestyles of normal citizens.
What can be done to foster these changes and effectively promote the adoption of more sustainable choices and lifestyles?
In order to answer this question, we adopt a socio-technical type approach, and we develop field-based research studies, directly engaging with the stakeholders and the final users, following them in their daily lives and in their real-life contexts. In other words, we construct “living laboratories”, where the direct experience of normal citizens helps us to identify the barriers to change, and to understand how to overcome these barriers, in a bi-directional process of co-creation and reciprocal growth.
We work in interdisciplinary teams, exploiting new information and communication technologies (ICT), particularly smart platforms and systems that make it simple and cheap to monitor large quantities of data related to personal consumption models and mindsets. Our studies are based on recent developments in the social sciences, particularly social psychology and behavioural sciences, and often adopt techniques and instruments typically found in the world of games, as a stimulus for triggering off changes in individual behaviour. We utilise both quantitative and qualitative analysis methods, frequently in a manner that is integrated and complementary, so as to provide a meticulous description of the phenomena, understand the causes and therefore bring to light the key elements around which to steer the transition.

Research work focuses on:

  • Design and direction of participatory and inclusive processes
  • Multi-criteria analysis techniques, negotiation and conflict management
  • Smart systems supporting decisions for the management of natural energy resources, and for the transition toward sustainability
  • Study, investigation and evaluation of the social effects of innovative practices and technologies (Living Labs)

Highlighted projects