Prof. Mohan Munasinghe

Prof. Mohan Munasinghe

Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Visiting time at TU Darmstadt: 05.-15. November 2013
Teaching and research area: Sustainomics […] „a transdisciplinary, integrative, comprehensive, balanced, heuristic and practical framework for making development more sustainable.“

Most important academic stations: Most important academic stations: Cambridge University, UK; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA; McGill University, Canada; Concordia University, Canada.

Teaching offer Wintersemester 2013/14: Sustainable development, consumption, production and climate change (Compact Course. For more details please visit:

1. Why should students of TU Darmstadt attend your lectures and/or seminars?

My hope and expectation is that this course will encourage a new generation of emerging “sustainomists” at Darmstadt who will make important contributions by further developing and deepening the framework I present in the course.

2. Why did you choose TU Darmstadt for your KIVA Visiting Professorship?

Among the many offers I receive from universities around the world, I chose Darmstadt to deliver my course because of the world class reputation it has on interdisciplinary work. I look forward to important synergies, mutual learning through exchange of ideas, follow-up research and collaboration with Darmstadt students, researchers and professors. Successful application to real world issues will require innovative thinking and dedication by Sustainomics practitioners to fill in both gaps in knowledge and to tackle problems of implementation.

3. At TU Darmstadt and especially in the context of KIVA interdisciplinarity has a high importance. Which are the connections between your area of teaching and research to other thematic fields and disciplines?

The neologism “sustainomics” underlines the fact that the emphasis is explicitly on sustainable development, and encourages a neutral approach free of any disciplinary bias or hegemony. Several authors suggest that sustainomics represents a new discipline, paradigm or science (e.g. Markandya et al., 2002; Vanderstraeten 2001). We stress that sustainomics is a practical, transdisciplinary framework (or “transdiscipline”), that seeks to establish an overarching, ‘holistic’ design for analysis and policy guidance, while the constituent components (principles, methods and tools drawn from many other disciplines) provide the rigorous ‘reductionist’ building blocks and foundation. It complements rather than replaces other approaches to addressing sustainable development issues. It seeks to integrate insights from other disciplines, and has much in common with other trans-disciplinary methods that attempt to bridge the economy-society-environment interfaces. Such a synthesis needs to make use of core disciplines like ecology, economics, and sociology, as well as anthropology, botany, chemistry, demography, ethics, geography, law, philosophy, physics, psychology, zoology etc. Technological skills such as engineering, biotechnology, and information technology also play a key role. The approach uses the most recent, practical and appropriate methods to inform and improve policy. Sustainomics is responsive to the context in which it is used, and may be combined flexibly with user judgment.