Transformations to Sustainability

After a slow-down imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Transformations to Sustainability programme’s twelve transdisciplinary research projects regrouped and regained momentum in 2021.

Transformations to Sustainability

In March 2021 the programme organized a public roundtable discussion with three invited experts on the meaning of ‘transformations to sustainability’, available to watch online.

The projects also produced a special issue of the journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (COSUST), with eleven articles focusing on the contributions of social science approaches and perspectives on transformations to sustainability. These issues were further explored in conference sessions at the Sustainability Research & Innovation Congress 2021 and Transformations 2021: Enabling positive tipping points in an uncertain world.

One of the peer-reviewed articles for COSUST was co-authored with the ISC Transformations to Sustainability and LIRA 2030 programme managers and presented an analysis of ways in which research networks can foster transdisciplinary science for sustainability.

The programme continued its efforts to synthesize knowledge on transformations to sustainability, producing four original peer-reviewed review articles in a long-running virtual special issue of COSUST (in addition to the issue mentioned above) and two knowledge briefs: Finding common ground in transformative sustainability narratives and Three ways of understanding social transformations to sustainability.

The Pathways Transformative Knowledge Network, which ran from 2016 to 2019, produced its final output, the open-access book Transformative Pathways to Sustainability: Learning Across Disciplines, Cultures and Contexts, which highlights the role played by transdisciplinary research in contributing to transformations to sustainability. Other outputs continued to emerge from the completed networks funded through the first phase of the programme over the course of 2021.

‘I just wanted to express gratitude for the space to work in such experimental ways and to have that received as being valuable knowledge. It’s a paradigm shift for me and others in terms of dreaming of what research and education can look like as we continue to encourage ourselves to work in affirmative ways towards a future worthy of our longing.’

Injairu Kulundu-Bolus, Environmental Learning Research Centre, Rhodes University, South Africa

Next: Transform 21

Image by Nii Obodai. The Gold Matters project, part of the Transformations to Sustainability programme, involves using photography, painting and sculpture to find ways to stimulate discussions about small-scale and artisanal gold mining. A virtual exhibition was launched in 2021, building on in-person exhibitions such as the one photographed in Kejetia, northern Ghana.

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