August 26 – 31 , 2018, Dagstuhl Seminar 18351

Modeling for Sustainability


Gordon Blair (Lancaster University, GB)
Betty H. C. Cheng (Michigan State University – East Lansing, US)
Lorenz Hilty (Universität Zürich, CH)
Richard F. Paige (University of York, GB)

For support, please contact

Susanne Bach-Bernhard for administrative matters

Andreas Dolzmann for scientific matters


List of Participants
Shared Documents


Sustainability focuses on the endurance of processes and products. It is perhaps most widely associated with environmental science and climate science. All engineering disciplines are involved in sustainability initiatives. For example, the engineering of smart cities must consider sustainability concerns such as mapping of natural resource availability, statistical analysis of skill bases, and transport design. Smart city engineering also must consider approaches to system-level modelling, and open data sharing across ICT platforms. Sustainability is an inherent challenge in modern systems and software engineering.

Sustainability engineering is the discipline of constructing systems that support and enable sustainability. In sustainability engineering, many different kinds of models have to be integrated. Engineering models (which are used in development) need to be combined with scientific models (which help underpin decision making).

This Dagstuhl Seminar will explore the intrinsic nature of both scientific and engineering models, the underlying differences in their respective foundations, and the challenges related to their integration, evolution and use for decision-making. The latter in particular is a key objective of the seminar, to better support both domain experts (e.g., environmental scientists) and engineers in understanding the impact of changes to both scientific and engineering models on sustainability problems. These explorations will be based on a selected real-world case study chosen by the participants in advance of the seminar.

Specific goals for the seminar include:

  • Understanding the theoretical foundations of the scientific and engineering models that underpin different aspects of sustainability engineering, e.g., the foundations of climate modelling, economic models of sustainability, model-driven engineering approaches to systems.
  • Understanding the different patterns of interfaces in scientific and engineering models – i.e., the different ways in which scientific and engineering models can be "hooked together"
  • Understanding the different patterns of evolution in scientific and engineering models. This will also entail classification of evolutionary patterns to help better understand how these changes will propagate through the integrated models (e.g., how will a particular type of change to an ocean chemistry model impact on a coupled software model?), to inform decisions on how to manage said changes.
  • Understanding how integrated models can underpin sustainability decision making, particularly to support "what-if" analysis.

  Creative Commons BY 3.0 DE
  Gordon Blair, Betty H. C. Cheng, Lorenz Hilty, and Richard F. Paige


  • Modelling / Simulation
  • Society / Human-computer Interaction
  • Software Engineering


  • Modeling
  • Sustainability
  • Engineering

Book exhibition

Books from the participants of the current Seminar 

Book exhibition in the library, ground floor, during the seminar week.


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


Download overview leaflet (PDF).


Furthermore, a comprehensive peer-reviewed collection of research papers can be published in the series Dagstuhl Follow-Ups.

Dagstuhl's Impact

Please inform us when a publication was published as a result from your seminar. These publications are listed in the category Dagstuhl's Impact and are presented on a special shelf on the ground floor of the library.

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