Revised research statement

The following research statement is focussed on my doctoral research but may also shape my postdoctoral research directions when I (hopefully) finish my PhD: My research examines the production, evaluation and use of anticipatory knowledge in relation to climate change responses and associated policy processes (e.g. energy policy, innovation policy, transport planning / infrastructure, etc). …

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The ‘collective impact’ approach: is there any substance to it, or is it just hype?

There’s a lot of hype of late around the ‘collective impact’ framework for collaborative problem-solving initiatives – lots of prominent folk seem to have embraced it, such as Dawn O’Neil who was recently the CEO of Lifeline Australia and beyondblue, and is a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the community and …

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The “compressed foresight” of deterministic sustainability thinkers

Consider these contrasting perspectives. Giles Parkinson in http://reneweconomy.com.au writes: “Solar and storage means “game over” for traditional utilities” (note: that’s the intentionally dramatic headline). He quotes Jon Wellinghoff, the chairman of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) who stated:  “Once it is more cost-effective to build solar with storage than to build a combustion turbine or …

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Reconsidering the theoretical foundation of prospective practices (PART 3): the causal logic of interventions and achieving transformative change

Prospective practices often try to change the course of change, not just anticipate or predict change. However, the underlying causal logic of such interventions tends to be under theorised and/or remains mostly tacit. In the evaluation literature this causal logic is often termed the “intervention theory”, or the “program theory”, or underlying “theory of change”. …

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Reconsidering the theoretical foundations of prospective practices (PART 2) – a field theory perspective

In this post I consider the theory of “social fields” developed by two influential American sociologists, Neil Fligstein and Doug McAdam, drawing principally on their book A Theory of Fields (Oxford University Press, 2012). A Theory of Fields offers “a general theory of social change and stability rooted in a view of social life as …

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Reconsidering the theoretical foundation of prospective practices (PART 1)

Authors of papers on prospective practices often take one of two stances: 1) they argue that these are learned crafts (and certainly not a science), and question the need for greater theorisation or greater use of theory; or 2) they, increasingly, question whether they have an adequate theoretical foundation, point to gaps, and/or try to …

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Anthony Giddens on the rise of futures thinking and risk management

It is commonly argued that modern Western cultures have a bias towards short-termism and the present (rather than adequately considering the future). I was recently prompted to re-engage with Anthony Giddens analysis of how engagement with the future has evolved, which challenges some of these prevailing these views. Giddens is an influential British sociologist who …

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On the concept of ‘anticipatory interventions’ and its discontents

Dr Ken Henry’s recent interventions in the national Australian economic debate, in which he warned about future “day of reckoning” and made the case that an emerging budgetary crisis demands extensive tax reform, got me thinking again about the concept of anticipatory interventions. I first came across this term in Haico te Kulve’s thesis which …

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