Integrated Network for Social Sustainability (INSS)

Areas of Interest:


Project Type:

Other Study

Latest Update: March 16, 2017
Primary Contact: Frazier Benya

The NAE's Center for Engineering Ethics and Society (CEES) is assisting the University of North Carolina - Charlotte with building an Integrated Network for Social Sustainability (INSS) to develop a network of researchers and practitioners, including engineers, who will examine what it means to engineer in a socially sustainable manner.[1] Broadly defined, social sustainability includes particularly those aspects of sustainability related to human welfare focusing on community, quality of life, social justice, democratic process, education, and health and safety. Examples of socially sustainable engineering are civil engineering projects in developing countries that are designed in collaboration with the community to meet its needs, accommodate the skills and tools of community members for repairs and maintenance, and improve quality of life.

Although engineering education and practice have incorporated environmental sustainability, what social sustainability means for engineering education and practice is much less clear. To address this INSS aims to accelerate the rate at which social aspects of sustainability are more authentically included in policy, planning, and research about the built environment. The INSS network will provide annual summits and year-long opportunities for networking and collaboration. Together members will share case studies and experiences and work toward including social aspects of sustainability in engineering.

Network members include:

  • Businesses who are engaged with corporate social responsibility
  • Engineers, planners and architects, who seek indicators and assessment tools to evaluate the social sustainability of various project alternatives.
  • Academics in a variety of fields who continue to re-examine and refine what is broadly meant by social sustainability and related terms through historical and contemporary examples.
  • Practitioners and NGOs who often work on projects involving social sustainability.

INSS held its inaugural conference in May 2013. The next meeting is scheduled April 9-11, 2015 . Funds are available to assist with travel expenses. If you are interested in attending, please contact the INSS at:

[1] INSS was initiated with U.S. National Science Foundation funding that will support network activities and conferences for five years. Dr. Nicole Peterson of UNC Charlotte (Charlotte, NC) Anthropology leads the team, which also includes representation from Civil and Environmental Engineering; English, and Architecture. More information about INSS is also available on the network's website


Project Status
In Progress
Project Sponsor

University of North Carolina - Charlotte (UNCC)


The National Science Foundation (NSF)

Network Website
Resources and Opportunities
  • This resource collection on the Online Ethics Center includes bibliographies, essays, reports, and case studies on sustainability.

  • The INSS is very excited to launch a film and digital media competition: “Visions of Social Sustainability.” Submissions must be received by 5pm EST on January 3, 2015.