There are more than 7 billion people on the planet. We all need access to food, water, air and materials to provide shelter and well-being. How do we collectively balance the global ambitions of well-being, provision and equitable allocation of resources in an era of globalization and change? Attention to these challenges is coming together under the banner of sustainability science, an interdisciplinary ambition for basic science and applied problem solving. A uniformly agreed upon important pursuit, the consensus within the field itself is that the field is poorly defined. One track of my research investigates the theoretical underpinnings of this maturing discipline, as well as the progress toward its ambition of enabling a sustainable future.