The School of Sustainability Science and Knowledge Traditions is under the leadership of Professor Govindan Parayil. The Institute conducts research on integrating latest scientific knowledge and traditional wisdom and epistemology from cultures from all around the world consistent with the goals and strategic mission of AUSN. Our research combines the social sciences with relevant physical and life sciences and is aimed at the development of informed policy-making to address global concerns for building sustainable communities and societies. The Institute engages international expertise at local, regional, and global levels from multiple disciplines in the natural, social, and life sciences. This combined expertise is the cornerstone of our research programs, allowing us to focus on the development of informed policy-making to meet sustainable development challenges.
The mission includes research, networking, and education and capacity development, both in-house and in co-operation with an interactive network of academic institutions and international organizations. The current research agenda focuses on strategic paths to the development of sustainability science, sustainable development, biodiversity, social and environmental governance, urban ecosystems, science and technology policy options for developing, least developed and industrially advanced countries, and education for sustainable development.
About the Director:
Dr. Parayll served as the Vice-Rector of the United Nations University (UNU) from July 2008 to 2014. His appointment as UNU Vice-Rector was based on his global recognition as an expert on environment and sustainable development, which he has demonstrated through academic and administrative leadership at some of the world’s leading universities and through his sustained record of research excellence and publications.
Before joining United Nations University, he was a Full Professor at the University of Oslo, Norway and Director of Research of the University of Oslo Center for Technology, Innovation and Culture. He has held Professorships at National University of Singapore and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Visiting Professorships at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Virginia Tech, and Illinois Institute of Technology. He is an internationally recognized academic scholar in the interdisciplinary field of sustainability science – an emerging applied scientific field for finding social, economic and environmental pathways to sustainability.
He has a degree of Bachelor of Science with First Class Honors in Electrical Engineering from the National Institute of Technology Calicut, India (formerly, Regional Engineering College Calicut). After receiving a Master of Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York and a Master of Arts from American University in Washington, DC, he went on to do a PhD in Science and Technology Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). He was the first person in the United States, and in the world, to receive a doctoral degree in this interdisciplinary field in 1990. After receiving PhD, he did postdoctoral work at Cornell University.
In addition to being Vice-Rector of UN University with various portfolios that included academic administration, quality assurance, and international partnerships, he was Director of UN University’s Institute of Advanced Studies for five years. His first book, Conceptualizing Technological Change: Theoretical and Empirical Explorations, was published in 1999 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, New York. He edited or co-edited several volumes and published extensively in international refereed journals. His intellectual interest in environment, science and technology linking sustainable development was a turning point in his career because of his appointment as Professor at the University of Oslo, Norway, where he was instrumental in helping the University of Oslo’s Center for Technology, Innovation and Culture to develop graduate specialization in science, technology and innovation that is socially and environmentally sustainable.