Exploring Social Sustainability

Through the Building Sustainable Societies project, the University of Leeds is pioneering a new research agenda into Social Sustainability.

Social sustainability is the least developed of the ‘three dimensions of sustainability’ (environmental, economic and social) and the relative lack of understanding of the social dimension provides a tremendous opportunity for academics, practitioners, students, business, and policy-makers to contribute to better understanding this emerging idea. 

Whilst our aim is to develop collaboratively a definition of  social sustainability, we suggest it might include: a society with a more equitable distribution of economic resources; greater equality, rights and social justice; fair and equal access to essential services such as housing, health, transport and education; a renegotiation of the work-life balance; and opportunities for everyone to participate actively in community life and decision-making. This is a long-term agenda that requires the essential first step of exploring together the concept of social sustainability to inform a new research agenda.

This event will bring together a global network of academics with policy makers and practitioners, all to play a part in that first step. As well as showcasing existing international impact and research excellence in the project’s established research hubs – Healthcare, Security & Justice, and Work, Care & Global Transitions – this event seeks to explore new directions for research in social sustainability through days themed around Education, Cities and Alternative Finance.


Monday 30th June, 1-5pm – Sustainable Education
This postgraduate led session aims to interrogate what sustainability might mean when applied to the field of education, and will involve a discussion around three presentations covering pedagogy, the future of university funding, and ‘mixed race’ access.

Tuesday 1st July, 9am-5pm – Social Sustainability
This day will bring together academics with practitioners and policy makers from the third sector, public sector, and private sector organisations, to discuss and explore the topic of social sustainability

Wednesday 2nd July, 9am-5pm – Sustainable Cities
Led by the Thesis Eleven Centre from La Trobe in Melbourne, this session will involve keynote presentations and roundtable discussion focused upon cultural and social dimensions of sustainable cities, with participants encouraged to make comments about the implications of their research and practice for developing a social sustainability agenda.

Thursday 3rd July, 1-5pm – Sustainable Money
This session brings together leading figures from business, civil society, government, and academia to interrogate the idea of sustainable money and explore the idea of building more sustainable societies through financial innovation. It will be of interest to anyone working in the field of alternative finance.