Practical wisdom and virtue ethics for knowledge co-production in sustainability science

A new paper has been published in Nature Sustainability in which an international team of authors led by Guido Caniglia of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research explore the use of practical wisdom and virtue ethics in knowledge co-production in sustainability science. Practical wisdom and virtue ethics strengthen the capacity of sustainability researchers to contribute to transformative change. 

Sustainability science is becoming increasingly important in the context of the global environmental change we are facing on our planet. Society has to respond to it fast by changing behaviour, decision-making and policy towards sustainability transformations. Emerging transformative research and sustainability science are crossing the boundaries of disciplines which, together, seek solutions and innovate social change for sustainability. Working with diverse societal actors, from local communities to policymakers, researchers find themselves in situations characterised by sociopolitical fractures and unequal access to resources, and yet their efforts often go unrecognised. There is also another problem in that traditional approaches to science and research scarcely provide solutions that are not based on technology. 

In this paper, the authors use examples from sustainability research to show how researchers, with regard to practical wisdom and virtue ethics, navigate these areas of transformation and co-production, and how they use the necessary skills such as agility, intelligence, discernment and strategies. They also take note of the researcher’s will (e.g., justice, care, humility, and courage) or intentions for their actions. The authors also suggest how academic, educational and knowledge institutions can develop and disseminate these skills in ways that support transformative research.    

Professor Julia Leventon from the Global Change Research Institute CAS (CzechGlobe), co-author of the study, says:

“I am really proud to have contributed to this publication and to have worked with this amazing group of people. Everyone who contributed to the paper is committed to advancing real impact on sustainability in their work and to working with and for society. Working on the publication has been an opportunity to see how innovative solutions are being implemented at the process level and therefore what skills we need to develop in ourselves and in the researchers whom we train and with whom we work.”

The findings show that to create socially relevant knowledge for resilient societies, we have to remove barriers and actively create spaces for researchers to apply their practical wisdom.

Source: Caniglia, G., Freeth, R., Luederitz, C. et al. Practical wisdom and virtue ethics for knowledge co-production in sustainability science. Nat Sustain (2023).

Contact for media: Prof. Julia Leventon,

Původní tisková zpráva v českém jazyce je dostupná na stránkách CzechGlobe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: