The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 14, Number 2, 2015

ISSN 1602-2297


Social Health and Sustainability - What Conceptual Framing and Common Language Can Help Move a Shared Agenda Forward?



Heidi Lene Andersen, Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, Roskilde University, Denmark, hlenea@ruc.dk



Abstract: This article discusses how to accomplish a transition towards healthy and sustainable futures. Despite political statements and profound theoretical developments, little has happened in the field of practice. This article presents a number of problematics in the theoretical and conceptual development within the fields of sustainability and health promotion. With this objective in mind, this article seeks to find solutions to a question raised by the WHO health and sustainability researcher, Illona Kickbusch: ‘What conceptual framing and common language can help move a shared agenda forward?’ (Kickbusch, 2011: p. 7). The empirical case study presented here describes the local planning process of a health project in a deprived community in Copenhagen, Denmark. This setting opened an opportunity for intersectional cooperation and interaction between the municipality’s Environmental and Healthcare departments. The article demonstrates that an action research approach including an Aristotelean phronetic perspective can be successful in integrating health and sustainability in research, as well as in practice. There are two main conclusions from the empirical case study. The first is that the common language in the search for a shared agenda is based in the social aspect of heath and sustainability. The other conclusion is that the search for a shared agenda is in itself a strategy for achieving integration between health and the environmental, economic and social impacts, both within the field of practice and the field of research.


Key words: social health, sustainable development, social health, health promotion, action research, phronetic social science


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