Ways to read:

  1. Buy the book or individual chapters.
  2. Check your university library; it’s freely available at libraries with a Springer subscription.
  3. For a free download of the Introduction, go here, scroll down to ‘Table of Contents’ then select ‘Front Matter.’

What the book does

  • Assembles existing knowledge in the environmental and social sciences to generate a science-based, integrated, accessible, and actionable theoretical framework for socio-environmental studies
  • Overcomes dualistic tendencies in conventional worldviews, such as humans and nature, individual and society, and the like
  • Facilitates interdisciplinary communication and collaboration among those seeking to understand and address complex socio-environmental issues
  • Outlines a general theory of social change


In the face of complex, interwoven, planet-scale problems, many cite the need for more integrated knowledge—especially across the natural and social sciences. Excessive specialization, they argue, gets in the way of knowing what we know, much less being able to use it to address urgent socio-environmental crises. These concerns, it turns out, go back centuries. This book picks up where most leave off, exploring the history of how we got here and proposing a way forward. Along the way, readers find that the synthesis long called for depends on theoretical advancements in social science. Fortunately, the author argues, we have everything we need to achieve those advancements, thanks largely to the contributions of Norbert Elias. Integrating his insights with history, science, sociological theory, and more, this book neatly packages the upgraded paradigm we need to be able to meaningfully address complex socio-environmental problems and more intentionally shape humanity’s collective future.

Who’s it for?

  • Teachers and scholars in the realm of environmental studies and sciences
  • Anyone working toward Transition and positive social change
  • Advocates of interdisciplinary education for the real world
  • Generalists, big picture thinkers, and aspiring synthesists
  • Elias fans interested in the broader value of his work
  • Sociologists and social scientists of all kinds
  • And other curious minds


“Debbie Kasper’s Beyond the Knowledge Crisis is a vital work that arrives at a critical time. Scholars of Norbert Elias should be delighted with Kasper’s explorations of his work and influence, but perhaps more importantly, all practitioners of integrative problem solving will find great insight and guidance here. Kasper provides a much-needed tonic during a time of enormous practical and existential challenges, when teachers and students alike need clear guidance to undertake integrative problem solving, especially in environmental studies. As an iconoclastic interdisciplinarian with a 30-year career learning and teaching, I can attest that it is rare to encounter a book that so skillfully and accurately depicts the world of professional practice that I have both inhabited and researched for so long. Kasper’s work will help us navigate the complexities of setting and achieving truly interdisciplinary goals in the face of the great complexity that now demands them.”

—Richard L. Wallace, Professor of Environmental Studies and Marine Science, Chair of the Environmental Studies Department, Ursinus College, USA

“The book summarizes the work of several decades, culminating in a revolutionary model of recent human evolution. It challenges current consensus views fundamentally, presenting in its support a mass of evidence, much of which has never been assembled before. This evidence derives primarily from archaeology, paleoanthropology, genetics, clinical psychology, neurosciences, linguistics and cognitive sciences. No even remotely similar thesis of recent human origins has ever been published, but some of the key elements of this book have been published by the author in major refereed journals in the last two years. Its implications, if published effectively, would be far-reaching, and would profoundly affect the way we perceive ourselves as a species.”


“…Broad in sweep, Kasper’s book examines the ecological crisis—the practical issue of politics and policy now and in the near future. The author’s stress throughout is on the word synthesis, recognizing that a theoretical and empirical intellectual synthesis of history and the social and natural sciences is necessary to tackle the global problems of the age. This very synthesis is that which Elias himself was seeking to achieve, especially in his later writings.”

—Stephen Mennell, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University College Dublin, Ireland