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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Some reflections on IST 2016

The International Sustainability Transitions conference (the annual conference of the Sustainability Transitions Research Network) was held earlier this month in Wuppertal, Germany. Wuppertal turned out to be an interesting place to hold this conference. This part of Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia) is an industrial region – one presenter claimed that the region produces 10% of the …

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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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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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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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New ecomodernist manifesto released

A group of scholars, scientists, campaigners, and citizens – many of which are associated with The Breakthrough Institute in the US – have released a new “ecomodernist” manifesto (available here). It’s an interesting document which is sure to spark debate. In the preamble they state that “we affirm one long-standing environmental ideal, that humanity must …

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Traditions of sustainability research and practice

When I first started considering the sustainability literature I engaged with commonly discussed frameworks like so-called ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ sustainability – the former commonly described as being technocentric and anthropocentric, whereas the latter is more ecocentric, communalist and preservationist – and environmental discourse frameworks. Such discourse frameworks include John Dryzek’s model of four ecodiscourses (the …

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On ‘intelligent muddling’ and anticipatory practices

The concept of intelligent muddling is proposed in a provocative little book called The Techno-Human Condition by two American scholars – Braden Allenby and Daniel Sarewitz from Arizona State University. The book is ostensibly a critique of transhumanism movements; however, it addresses much broader themes as per their notion of the ‘techno-human condition’, and critical …

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