The greatest challenge facing humanity in the twenty-first century is our ability to reconcile the capacity of natural systems to support continued improvement in human welfare around the globe. Over the last decade, the scientific community has attempted to formulate research agendas in response to what they view as the problems of sustainability. Perhaps the most prominent and wide-ranging of these efforts has been sustainability science, an interdisciplinary, problem-driven field that seeks to address fundamental questions on human-environment interactions. This project examines how sustainability scientists grapple with and bound the deeply social, political and normative dimensions of both characterizing and pursuing sustainability. Based on in-depth interviews with leading researchers and a content analysis of the relevant literature, this project first addresses three core questions: (1) how sustainability scientists define and bound sustainability; (2) how and why various research agendas are being constructed to address these notions of sustainability; (3) and how scientists see their research contributing to societal efforts to move towards sustainability. Based on these results, the project explores the tensions between scientific efforts to study and inform sustainability and social action. It discusses the implications of transforming sustainability into the subject of scientific analysis with a focus on the power of science to constrain discourse and the institutional and epistemological contexts that link knowledge to societal outcomes. Following this analysis, sustainability science is repositioned, borrowing Herbert Simon's concept, as a "science of design." Sustainability science has thus far been too focused on understanding the "problem-space"--addressing fundamental questions about coupled human-natural systems. A new set objectives and design principles are proposed that would move the field toward a more solutions-oriented approach and the enrichment of public reasoning and deliberation. Four new research streams that would situate sustainability science as a science of design are then discussed: creating desirable futures, socio-technical change, sustainability values, and social learning. The results serve as a foundation for a sustainability science that is evaluated on its ability to frame sustainability problems and solutions in ways that make them amenable to democratic and pragmatic social action.