5. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

In many ways, we have found the concept of sustainable development to be an important addition to international relations theory, policy, and practice – and to the lateral pressure logic by helping to provide system boundaries for framing the problems at hand. Mapping Sustainability: Knowledge e-Networking and the Value Chain Sustainability (Choucri et al., 2007)1 draws on the work of Marvin Minsky – the founding Director of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory – it is useful to think of a frame as “a sort of skeleton, something like an application form with many blanks or slots to be filled” (Minsky, 1986: 245)2. Focusing on the master variables as critical drivers of lateral pressure. The framing challenge is to provide the skeleton within which to fill knowledge materials central to sustainable development. Based on visualization technologies, utilizing geographical information systems (GIS) technologies, Ortiz (2007)3, shows the distribution of state profiles in 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional maps of the global system. These maps show the global patterns of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the emissions by profile type, Ortiz illustrates the geographic distribution, temporal evolution, and cross-sectional inter-relationships of relevant variables, the categorical proxy of country profiles, and related variables of growth and development across all countries over a time frame of over several decades. These maps visually convey the basic message embodied large datasets with complex inter-relationships between variables, across a geographic space. Visualization contributes to our overall understanding of the lateral pressure dynamics in ways that transcend the econometric or system dynamics methodologies. In many ways, visualization can expedite the process of hypothesis generation and testing.

We now turn to the characteristic features of the constructed domain, cyberspace, and to how the fifth phase of theory development and empirical analysis in international relations responds to the new realities created by the construction of cyberspace and interactions with the traditional international order.


  1. Choucri, N. (2007). Mapping sustainability: Knowledge e-networking and the value chain. Dordrecht: Springer.
  2. Minsky, M. (1986). The society of mind. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  3. Ortiz, C. (2007). "Visualization" in Choucri, N. (2007). Mapping sustainability: Knowledge e-networking and the value chain. Dordrecht: Springer. 231-260.