STEPS-JNU Symposium: Exploring Pathways To Sustainabilty

Our 2014 Annual Symposium, ‘Exploring pathways to sustainability’, was co-organised with the Centre for Studies in Science Policy at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India and launched a new initiative across four schools at JNU to create a STEPS ‘Sustainability Hub’ for collaborative, interdisciplinary work. This exciting initiative will engender cutting-edge, academically rigorous research across the social and natural sciences, policy-oriented engagement, joint events, cross-learning and innovative communications.

Symposium montage

Exploring pathways to Sustainability

Overview | Programme | Resources | Blog | Video | Storify | Twitter | Photos


The 2014 Annual Symposium focused on the theme of ‘pathways to sustainability’. Our participants considered how mainstream, development interventions emerge as part of self-reinforcing trajectories for change. What are the implications of these pathways for both environmental integrity and social justice? Over two days we explored future trajectories of change and possibilities for switching to more sustainable alternative pathways across a range of contemporary issues including urbanisation and environmental health, climate change, securitisation and grassroots innovation. Resources documenting the event and issues covered, include video, the event Storify and a blog series.

Symposium audienceProgramme

Sessions covered four areas being investigated by STEPS Centre research projects in India: environmental health and urban transitions; living with climate change uncertainty; grassroots innovation; and securitisation., detailed in the resources section below, as well as an audience-led interactive ‘World Café’ session and a cross-cutting expert panel. Video of the opening and expert panel sessions and a series of vox pops asking “how do you build pathways to sustainability” are available to watch.

Symposium Blog Series

Symposium resources

Session 1: Pathways to environmental health / urban transitions plastic bag waste on agricultural land, Karehda, Ghaziabad_Pritpal Randhawa

There are recognised tensions between urban and industrial development and environmental
protection, but limited understanding of how emerging environmental challenges
associated with rapid economic development, and the responses to them on the
ground, impact on human well-being. This session draws on STEPS Centre work in India.

Session 2: Uncertainty from Below10051965616_a1ccd128f6_m

Ecological uncertainty has usually been theorized from ‘above’ by experts. But the theories and models concerning uncertainty from “above” may have little to do with the way how everyday men and women (poor or rich, urban or rural especially in the global South) live with, understand and cope with uncertainty in their daily lives. This panel draws on ongoing STEPS Centre research in the Sunderbans, Kutch and urban India.

Session 4: Grassroots InnovationGrassroots-innovation_honey

This project examines inclusive innovation and the present-day programmes and social movements which promote it. It looks at possible strategies and approaches to support and harness inclusive and grassroots innovation.

Session 5: Securitisation240px_Anti-dam-protestors_I

The Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus is emerging globally as a research agenda and governance framework for understanding the relationship between water resources development and the energy and food sectors. This session will discuss case studies from Nepal-India and Thailand-Laos, countries that each share transboundary rivers (Mekong, Ganga) and that are increasingly tied together by jointly developed water resource development projects and cross-border power trade.

Selected resources