This chapter discusses the suitability of different conceptual frameworks to describe complex dynamic social-ecological-technological systems for the practice of collaborative transformative sustainability science (as described in Chapter 1). Quality criteria include whether the framework has been designed:

To capture a sophisticated scientific understanding of earth system processes as well as of social and individual worlds and their interactions;

To recognize and represent uncertainties and ignorance in order to leave room for surprise and creativity;

For participation of diverse stakeholder and interest and perspectives to get a shared understanding from a social knowledge-making process, but also to understand crucial differences in perspectives, interests and values;

To recognize alternative futures and develop shared desirable visions and development pathways; and

To capture the attention of decision makers and policy makers with the power to effect change at all levels.

The possibility to pinpoint feedback effects (especially cross-sector) and the depth of understanding between team members are considered most important. The different frameworks presented in this chapter have emerged from different fields of knowledge, including environmental science, economics and management, and human ecology. This chapter discusses the merits and limitations of selected frameworks, based on the mentioned quality criteria.