Advancing transformations to more sustainable and equitable futures. Read more.

Research

Understanding transformations

Transformations to Sustainability focuses on the complex processes of social transformation needed to secure effective, equitable and durable solutions to the urgent problems of global environmental change.

Climate and other environmental changes are understood as social processes embedded in specific social systems. A transformative approach provides tools to question and rethink the shape and course of those processes, and ultimately to inform actions that result in ethical and equitable transformations to sustainability.

Profound social transformation may be planned or unintentional, and it is always the result of complex, multidimensional processes involving multiple actors and occurring at different rates and scales. The transformations lens provides a better understanding of how real and enduring social change comes about, and how – if at all – it can be initiated, fostered or steered.

We asked leading thinkers about key dimensions of transformations research:

What is transformation?

Joseph Tainter: What is transformation?
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Frances Westley (pre-recorded): Transformation in the social sciences and of the social sciences
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How do transformations look? What are their characteristics?

Mary Watkins: Psychic, social, and eco-decolonization for the commons-to-be
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Frans Berkhout: Features of (socio-technical) transformations
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What and who initiates transformation?

Adam Habib

Sarah Cook

Can transformations toward desired futures be facilitated, steered or managed?

Melissa Leach: Steering transformations? Pathways, power and politics
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Enrique Leff: Can transformations toward desired futures be facilitated, steered or managed?

What does transformative science look like? What does transformative science mean for science policy?

Ed Hackett: Transforming science
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Klaus Töpfer: The sustainability imperative despite staggering and interconnected crises
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How does research in the Transformative Knowledge Networks seek to understand transformations?

What do we mean by ‘transformations in practice’? How can we create them?

Transformative approaches to learning and conflict: