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Sustainability through behaviour change

Global sustainability problems such as food security, energy and water conservation – are ultimately rooted in human behaviour. Addressing these problems requires an understanding of how to support people to initiate and maintain changes to their behaviour.

The challenge

People cycling

Sustainability-relevant behaviour change is a multidisciplinary challenge requiring the skills and knowledge of people such as psychologists, sociologists, economists, engineers, and computer scientists. Changing any given behaviour also requires grounded knowledge of the behaviour, the stakeholders for whom the behaviour is relevant, and the broader systems in which the behaviour is situated.

This theme will involve leading large projects that apply behavioural science to address multiple key sustainability-relevant behaviours in real-world settings, and thereby develop behaviour change science. Projects under this theme will not only draw on extant cutting-edge behavioural science but will also enable us to further theory, methods and applications in areas of key research need within behavioural science, such as understanding long-term behaviour change.

Many of the most pressing sustainability challenges are rooted in human behaviour. No one scientific discipline can address these challenges alone. With the Institute’s backing, this multidisciplinary theme brings together the cutting-edge skills, knowhow, and passion of Surrey’s world-leading scientists, allowing us to offer fresh new behaviour change solutions. The Institute has already been instrumental in creating opportunities to connect with organisations and networks invested in understanding and changing sustainability-relevant behaviours. Dr Benjamin Gardner, Co-Lead