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Methods

The STEPS Centre has developed a distinctive ‘pathways approach’. Drawing on many other strands of work, this aims to understand the complex, non-linear interactions between social, technological and environmental systems. Some pathways may threaten poor peoples’ livelihoods and health, while others create opportunities for sustainability.

Of all the diverse pathways that are typically viable in any given setting, various self-reinforcing dynamics typically mean that only a few ‘lock in’. Many others are ‘crowded out’. The strongest pressures ‘close down’ attention around those pathways that are favoured by the most powerful interests. The real challenge, then, is to find ways ‘open up’ this politics of pathways.

Our interdisciplinary research tries to link this theory to practical solutions that address today’s global challenges.

To help make this link between theory and change, we are developing a suite of ‘pathways methods’ that help open up alternative social, technological and environmental pathways to sustainability, drawing on examples from both our own and others’ work.

These resources are continually updated as this work progresses – and in interaction with a wider global community of colleagues. So, the site is therefore always provisional. And we welcome critical comments and suggestions.