Transformations to Sustainability is a research programme that aims to make a difference. Launched in 2014, the programme was designed to increase the social science contribution to addressing global environmental change, by providing a platform for social scientists, including from the Global South, to lead interdisciplinary sustainability research; building research capacity for international, transdisciplinary sustainability research; and promoting the use of the best social science knowledge available.
The programme has had two phases – the first, showcased on TransformationsToSustainability.org – was financed almost entirely by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and involved the funding of 38 seed grants and three major international research projects, or ‘Transformative Knowledge Networks’ between 2014 and 2019, with a research budget of 3.7m EUR.
In the second phase, the ISC, with the support of Sida, has joined forces with the Belmont Forum and NORFACE to jointly fund a set of 12 international research projects which run from 2018 to 2022 with a research budget of 11.5m EUR. The activities and outputs associated with the current projects are showcased on a dedicated website: t2sresearch.org.
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A source of up-to-date knowledge on questions of social transformations to sustainability
Knowledge about transformations to sustainability is increasing but is still fragmented. The T2S programme produces and shares cutting-edge thinking on social transformations and on engaged, co-designed and co-produced sustainability research. Some of the key outputs are collected below.
What is transformation?
▶ Watch: Ten leading thinkers give their views on social transformation and how to achieve it
▶ Watch: Members of the T2S projects share ideas on ‘transformations in practice’ – what kind of transformations in research and practice are needed, and how can we make them happen, fast?
Reviews of recent literature on transformation in various domains of research
A virtual, ongoing special issue of Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability: ‘The State of Knowledge on Social Transformation’, a partnership between the ISC and COSUST. This constantly expanding special issue consists of peer-reviewed reviews of knowledge on various dimensions of social transformations to sustainability, with conclusions for research, practice and policy.
The latest reviews to be published are:
Galvin, K. 2021. Transformational adaptation in drylands. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2021, XX:64–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2021.03.003
This article describes forces of change in drylands and the social changes observed in pastoralist dryland systems, with a focus on Africa. The observed changes point to changes in values, social/gender relations, livelihoods and institutions, all fundamental elements of transformational adaptation.
Riedy, C. 2020. Discourse coalitions for sustainability transformations: common ground and conflict beyond neoliberalism. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2020, 45:100–112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2020.09.014
This paper reviews alternative sustainability discourses to identify common ground and conflicts, arguing that this is an important step towards the formation of discourse coalitions that could rival the political power of neoliberal capitalism.
Digests of up-to-date knowledge on social transformations for non-specialist communities, mainly based on the peer-reviewed papers in the COSUST virtual special issue. Find the full list of published briefs here.
The latest brief is:
‘Three ways of understanding social transformations to sustainability’. Knowledge Brief 6, March 2021.
‘Promoting Indigenous knowledge and values for more sustainable water resource management’. Knowledge Brief 5, Oct 2020.
Questions of the ‘how’ of transdisciplinary research on transformations to sustainability
A blog summarizing perceptions of the current project members of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their transdisciplinary research, and touching on what ‘transformation’ means in the context of such disruption.
In this short video, Dylan McGarry of the T-Learning project presents an original ‘tarot-based’ framework to understand the various roles and responsibilities of the researcher in contemporary times, particularly in the domains of research for development or engaged, co-produced, ‘transgressive’ research.
A special issue of Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability on ‘Transformations and co-design’, compiling learning from 16 seed grantees on the process of co-design. Ed. Moser, S. Vol. 20, June 2016. Read more
A synthesis article on the transformative potential of co-design:
Moser, S. 2016. Can science on transformation transform science? Lessons from co-design. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2016, 20:106–115. Read more