V I Vernadsky and the noosphere concept: Russian understandings of nature-society interaction

Jonathan Oldfield, Denis Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)


Recent Russian legislative and policy documentation concerning national progress towards sustainable development has suggested that the attainment of such a state would represent the first stage in the development of the noosphere as outlined by the Russian scientist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863-1945). This paper explores Vernadsky's model of evolutionary change through a focus on his work on the biosphere and noosphere in an attempt to further understanding of the way in which Russia is approaching the concept of sustainable development in the contemporary period. It is argued that the official Russian interpretation of the noosphere idea tends to obscure the evolutionary and materialist foundations of Vernadsky's biosphere-noosphere conceptualisation. At the same time, the concluding section of the paper suggests that the scope of Vernadsky's work can be used to stimulate the search for a more coherent approach to work in areas of sustainable development and sustainability across the span of the social and physical sciences. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-154
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


  • geography
  • noosphere
  • biosphere
  • sustainable development
  • Vernadsky
  • Russia


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