The sugar rush in southern Africa

In a new post on his Zimbabweland blog, STEPS director Ian Scoones discusses a new special issue looking at sugar in South Africa. “It is a good moment to review the political economy of sugar in southern Africa. This is what a new open access special issue of the Journal of Southern African Studies does….

Learning from Rojava: exploring democracy in the midst of the Syrian war and beyond

Ahead of two events on democratic transformations in Northern Syria on 3 and 4 November, Patrick Huff (Birkbeck, University of London) blogs on the extraordinary changes going on in the region and how they came about. Few outside observers would expect to see democracy sprout from the wreckage of the Syrian Civil War – perhaps…

What we talk about when we talk about technology

In casual conversation ‘technology’ usually means something like a device, gadget or machine. Your smartphone for instance, or the satellite navigation system in your car; maybe the car itself, why not? But this conception of technology soon collapses if you subject it to a few quick tests. For example, try asking: Where is the technology?…

Empowering chickens?

In his latest Zimbabweland blog, STEPS director Ian Scoones looks at the latest scheme from Bill Gates to distribute chickens to help poor rural women.

Six grassroots innovation movements, and why they matter

Innovation is increasingly said to be vital for responding to global challenges like sustainable development. Often overlooked, however, is the fact that networks of community groups, activists and researchers have been innovating grassroots solutions for social justice and environmental sustainability for decades. A new STEPS book, Grassroots Innovation Movements (Routledge, 2016) examines six such movements…

Beyond two-dimensional perspectives: Sustainable energy access as adaptation and mitigation?

Earlier this year, the Institute of Development Studies convened a one day meeting of scholars to discuss the emerging field of the politics of climate change adaptation. I study sustainable energy access, which doesn’t conventionally get counted as adaptation, so I wondered to what extent the politics of adaptation extends to the framing of sustainable…

Responsibility and geoengineering in the Anthropocene

As the Anthropocene Working Group debate the start date of a new geological era, Jack Stilgoe asks what the Anthropocene means for how science takes responsibility for the climate. In this excerpt from his book, Experiment Earth, Jack looks at the relationship between the identification of the Anthropocene and the arrival of proposals for geoengineering,…

Digital fabrication. Whose industrial revolution?

As the Society for Social Studies of Science & EASST build up to their annual meeting in Barcelona next month, the 4S blog is featuring preview pieces by participants. One is by Johan Söderberg, Maxigas, and Adrian Smith, with a taste of their paper about democratizing the tools of scientific-technical expertise.  The last wave of…

Elderly man in doorway

How China’s social care providers are experimenting to meet the changing needs of citizens

Welfare provision in China, including social care for older people, is being stretched and challenged by economic, social and demographic changes in the country.  The rise in people’s expectations is creating pressure on government and service providers to deliver more and/or different services.

Recipe for a Green Economy

Why aren’t the media talking more about climate change and population growth? asked Nigel Chapman, the Director of the BBC World Service and Trust from 2004 to 2009, speaking at the Green Economy Coalition (GEC) Global meeting in London this week, on how to connect better with audiences about a Green Economy. He quoted a…