Signposts for future transformative research at the International Sustainability Transitions Conference 2015

International scientific conferences that bring together scholars on the same field to share and deepen dialogues and exchanges can be overwhelming and intense. With this Conference Brief, the DRIFT research team offers reflections and messages to take on board for the future steps in research from the International Sustainability Transitions Conference held in Brighton, 25-­28 August 2015.  

It is the IST conference again! The  annual reunion with transition scholars from all around the world to discuss, debate, share and plan for what makes, what it takes and whatwe know about wider transformative change. Here is a short account from the DRIFT Team:  

Session Picture: Role of civil society in sustainability transitions.

As DRIFT team, we enter the academic debate from different angles and with a great diversity of conceptual lenses and empirical insights. With the keynotes speeches aiming to inspire discussions and bringing new perspectives to  ongoing debates on the wider transformative changes and the way research interacts with them, we came to a diversity of reflections and messages to take home.

As DRIFT research team, we stand critical and sceptical to entrenched and unquestioned territories - be them theoretical or empirical - and with a strong transdisciplinary focus on our research, the messages to take home may signpost possible future research pathways. From our reflections and critical summary notes, we gather six key messages:

  • Message 1: Towards Theoretical Plurality! As sustainability transitions scholars we already benefit from new theoretical frameworks that go beyond the multi-­level perspective, and consider dynamics, agency and politics as starting points.
  • Message 2: Look out for stalemates! While the whole field is searching for fast-­pacing dynamics of transformative change, it may be also worth investigating what is not transitioning.
  • Message 3: Show me the innovation! With a focus on fitting or disruptive innovations for sustainability transitions, the new focus areas should be on the transformative impact rather than the outreach innovations achieve.
  • Message 4: Transitions and the City! Cities as empirical grounds to go beyond sectoral transitions and look closer at cross-‐sectoral and scale dynamics.
  • Message 5: Experimenting as the means to instigate sustainability transitions!
  • Message 6: Check your tools! Methodological issues, methods, concepts and frameworks and how they come together in sustainability transitions’ research was a core topic of discussion during the small group sessions of the research agenda. Co-­creation as a mode of engagement and operation!

Read a more detiled outline on the key messages in the DRIFT Conference Brief.

Print this article