Knowledge System


This glossary contains the definitions of key terms used in the GSSD Conceptual Framework, Applications, and Implementation. Key terms noted in the manual are also included. The glossary evolves with changes in the system. Therefore, some "letters" do not currently have any terms as "entries."


activities & conditions The section of the framework focusing on "activities and conditions" ring shows how population, resources, and technology interact with each other and with the natural environment to generate set of human activities, and also a set of related human conditions. In other words, this "ring" (and the "cells" in it) shows how population/technological/resource relationships manifest themselves in the real world.
agreements Treaties, resolutions, accords, or other binding agreements reached by governments, organizations, and special interest groups on relevant topics of study. Includes national level legislation.
amazon south america Regional descriptor referring to Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
andes south america Regional descriptor referring to Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
bibliographies & reports Compilations of books, reports, research papers, links, or other generally informative documents, including reports consisting of technical papers, policy papers, and instructions on implementation of knowledge.
caribbean central america Regional descriptor referring to the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
case studies Projects, initiatives, programs, or experiments carried out by one or more organizations, academic institutions, or governments on a global, regional, or local level.
cell The intersection of a ring and a slice.
central africa Regional descriptor referring to Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana, Benin, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Cape Verde
commonwealth of independent states - asia Regional descriptor referring to the Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
concept One of the subtopics found in a cell. This is usually an idea that is theoretical in nature.
continental central america Regional descriptor referring to Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
continental north america Regional descriptor referring to Canada and the United States excluding Hawaii.
core The central ring, referring to holdings whose breadth spans the sustainability domain.
datatype One of the eight types of information given about a concept. These are: definitions/theories, indicators, agreements, case studies, organizations, models, events, and bibliographies.
definitions/theories Documents that clarify the meaning of a concept, including its composition or key components, and the relationships among its elements.
eastern asia Regional descriptor referring to China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.
eastern europe Regional descriptor referring to Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Albania, Slovakia, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro.
equatorial south america Regional descriptor referring to Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Trinidad and Tobago.
events Conventions, conferences, workshops, symposiums, or other activities or gatherings designed to address the issues surrounding one or more concepts (of issues, problems, or challenges).






image map A WWW feature that allows the user to access different WWW pages by clicking on different parts of an image. The GSSD homepage, the buttons in the left hand frame, and the search navigators are examples of image maps.
indicators/data Statistics (or metrics) that provide some indication of the condition or direction of a social, economic, environmental, scientific, or other measurable variable.
international responses & global accords This ring focuses on coordinated actions among "sovereign" states in an socio-political context where states as well as non-state actors interact to shape eventual outcomes. This segment of the model is akin to the social dimension of the "fourth image" in the study of international relations--the first being the individual; the second being the state; and The third, being the international system. This use of "image" of level is due to Kenneth N Waltz (images 1-3) in social systems only; and Robert C. North, extending the three images along two lines of theoretical reasoning: (a) behaviors in social and natural conditions; and (b) extensions to the fourth image; i.e. the global system that transcends conventional social and political categories as well as the more conventional notions of "environment."






middle east Regional descriptor referring to Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Cyprus, Bahrain, and Qatar
models Smaller-scaled versions of a larger object or plan that are used to study its characteristics or make inferences about its effects. Models typically generate an output in response to user input, or generate output in response to endogenous adjustments.
northern africa Regional descriptor referring to Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania.
oceania Regional descriptor referring to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Philippines, Samoa, Palau, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and the Solomon Islands.
organizations One or more groups of people brought together by a common interest or purpose, in formal or informal arrangements, and with continuity over time.




ring One of five oval-shaped rings that make up the GSSD structure. These are: Activities & Conditions, Sustainability Problems, Scientific & Technical Solutions, Social, Economic, Political & Regulatory Problems, and International Responses & Global Accords.
scientific & technical solutions This section puts forth in summary form our current understanding regarding the types of technological and scientific interventions that could minimize damages due to "un-sustainability." Here also we recognize the salience of the issue of scale: i.e., the activities and conditions in question are not necessarily problematic at a small scale, but as the human population continues to grow, as resource uses expand, and as greater technological interventions are undertaken, they increasingly threaten the natural environment. Here we continue to stress the impacts of interactions among population, resource, and technology variables as they affect social and natural systems.
slice One of fourteen radial sections that collectively form an oval around the central core of the GSSD structure. These are: Energy Use & Sources, Trade & Finance, Industry, Mobility, Agriculture, Forest & Land Use, Water Use & Sources, Conflicts & Wars, Urbanization, Consumption, Unmet Basic Needs, Population, Migration & Dislocation, and Governance & Institutions.
social, economic, political & regulatory solutions This ring presents current understandings about concomitants of (but not necessarily alternatives to) technical solutions. This segment of the framework addresses the ways in which social behaviors can be managed (curtailed, altered, or reoriented), through a variety of methods (such as government interventions, sanctions, different forms of incentives, market mechanisms, etc). By the same token, if behaviors are substantially damaging to natural and social environments, and if the stakes are sufficiently high -- and understood as such -- then the offending behavior is curtailed through socially sanctioned mechanisms. This is the realm of governance, economics, politics, regulation, social pressures etc.
south eastern asia Regional descriptor referring to Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos , Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, and Lao People's Democratic Republic
southern africa Regional descriptor referring to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, and the Comoro Islands.
south western asia Regional descriptor referring to India, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan , Kazakstan, Sri Lanka, and Maldives.
sub-saharan africa Regional descriptor referring to Cameroon, Central African Republic, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Congo, Gabon, Zaire, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, and Seychelles.
sustainability problems Addresses the wide range of social and environmental destruction that has resulted from the aforementioned human activities and conditions. Specifically, such the cells in this ring outline the stakes of environmental and socio-economic damages by illustrating that present activities cannot continue without permanent socio-environmental damage. This section of the overall framework formulates explicit links between the social and natural environments. (Note that in system dynamics language, this segment of the framework "fills in" the details of basically filling out the details of an overshoot and collapse "models")
sustainable Development The process of meeting the needs of current and future generations without undermining the resilience of the life-supporting properties or the integrity and cohesion of social systems.
termweight If you are conducting a simple search or an advanced search with a text based search, you can use the Termweight operator to change the relevance ranking of search words, thus increasing or decreasing their importance in the search. Documents in which the search text is most important appear at the top of the list of search results (when you sort the results by relevance). Example: termweight 80 word1 or termweight 20 word2. See 'Search Help' on the seach pages for more information.




western europe Regional descriptor referring to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Iceland, Switzerland, Spain, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, San Marino, Andorra, Malta, and Luxembourg.







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