What’s the most important environmental problem? A (slightly) contrarian perspective

Lately I’ve seen the following James Gustave Speth quote shared on social media: When I read that quote I “groaned” a little. Cultural change is part of what’s needed, no doubt about it, but are the top problems “selfishness, greed and apathy”? Apathy can hamper any change effort, sure, but the emphasis on selfishness and …

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Contemplating the tensions between scholarship and activism

Whilst many people would argue that there aren’t unsolvable tensions between scholarship and activism I’ve sometimes found that there are tensions. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about regarding future career options and directions. I was also stimulated to revisit this line of thought by a fascinating talk given by the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt …

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What is meant by the politics of sustainability transitions?

The latest issue of the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning is a special issue on “The Politics of Transition” (link). In the introductory essay the special issue editors argue that sustainability transitions “involve politics in the broadest sense of the word”. They cite a broad conceptualisation of politics – proposed by Adrian Leftwich in …

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Theories of expectations and sustainability-oriented research

Last year I discovered Jens Beckert’s research on the role of fictional expectations in the economy.  Beckert interestingly contrasts the concept of fictional expectations with notion of rational expectations in economic theory, and in his recently published book Imagined Futures: Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics he further develops a sociological theory of expectations.  Beckert’s work …

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The imagined futures of the Great Barrier Reef: what’s the role of thought communities?

During my scanning of the news over recent weeks I noticed the diverse range of articles on recent coral bleaching events, related scientific research, and the future of the Great Barrier Reef, e.g.: ‘Great Barrier Reef could be dead within 20 years, Australia scientists have warned’ (link) ‘Great Barrier Reef and Other Corals May Survive …

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Expectations as a focus of politics in sustainability transitions

The question of “exactly how politics should be theorised and brought into analysis of sustainability transitions” (Lockwood 2016) has been raised by sustainability transition researchers. This post is a research memo (written as part of my doctoral research) which considers a key question: should those examining politics in sustainability transitions pay more attention to expectations …

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The problem with “transition management”

As noted in other recent posts I’ve been familiarising myself with an emerging field of research called sustainability transitions research (e.g. here, here). ‘Transition management’ (TM) is one approach that has been explored and researched at the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT). I’ve noted the concept of transition management in some of my papers …

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Debates and problems in ‘sustainability transitions’ theory and research

Lately I’ve been further familiarising myself with emerging field of research called sustainability transitions research which has developed over the past 15-20 years. Broadly such research, according to the Sustainability Transitions Research Network’s (STRN) research agenda (which, it must be said, doesn’t clearly define what a ‘sustainability transition’ is nor does it clearly define the …

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Knowledge practices and action for sustainability: some questions and gaps needing further examination in 2016

I recently reread an important commentary/thought piece on the future of sustainability science which argues that the field needs to substantially change in order “to ensure that science is focused on facilitating sustainability outcomes” (Miller et al. 2014). In particular, these sustainability researchers believe that a stronger focus on contributing to real-world solutions is required …

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