The ‘Methods bazaar’: what did we learn about transdisciplinary methods for sustainability?

What methods can help to ‘open up’ and ‘broaden out’ pathways to sustainability, revealing alternatives to one-track visions of progress and expertise? Sustainability challenges – from Covid-19 to climate change, agri-food futures to urbanisation – require thinking carefully about the relationships between power, knowledge and action. Transdisciplinary methods can offer a way to make new…

COP26: Two worlds talked past each other – or never even met

At the 2021 UN climate change conference in Glasgow, moving between the corporate slickness of the official “Blue Zone” (a UN-managed space which hosts the negotiations) and the wider fringe was quite a disconcerting experience for me. These were two different worlds. Everyone was committed to saving the planet, but there were highly diverging views…

Land reform in the UK: reporting from the Mass Trespass

Access to land is not only a concern in places like Zimbabwe. In England, less than 1% of the population own half the land and 92% of land is out of bounds for ordinary people. The skewed nature of land ownership and access is what Guy Shrubsole, author of the excellent book ‘Who owns England?’…

Buba river

Degrowth and the pluriverse: continued coloniality or intercultural revolution?

by Saurabh Arora and Andy Stirling UPDATE – 12 May 2021: Timothée Parrique, researcher and author on degrowth, has posted a response to this essay on his website. “And then all helplessly we peered into those Other-worlds, and wailed, “O World of Worlds, how shall man make you one?”” W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of…

Round icon with colours representing the Sustainable Development Goals

To meet the Sustainable Development Goals, we must transform innovation

By Saurabh Arora and Andy Stirling This blogpost is republished from STRINGS (Steering Research and Innovation for Global Goals). In 1925, Mahatma Gandhi famously included ‘science without humanity’ and ‘knowledge without character’, alongside ‘politics without principle’ and ‘commerce without morality’ in listing Seven Social Sins. Today, we can see these social sins of Modernity as central to unsustainability,…

waves on a beach

Waves of challenging research for sustainability

by Patricia Pérez Belmont, Umbela Transformaciones Sostenibles How can research methods inform and catalyse change towards more sustainable worlds? Last month, the STEPS Centre held an online event to launch a series on the theme of ‘Challenging Research’. Over the last 15 years, STEPS has worked to shift discourses on the politics of sustainability to…

DNA strands

A crossroads for ‘genome editing’ in Europe – questions, options and dilemmas

A new policy briefing on genome editing discusses choices and dilemmas facing policy makers and societal stakeholders in the European Union and the United Kingdom. The UK is considering changing its rules on ‘genome editing’ of crops, which would mean these technologies would be less tightly regulated than in the EU. A public consultation ends…

Change mural

Post-pandemic transformations: new directions for development studies?

by Melissa Leach, Hayley MacGregor and Ian Scoones Does the pandemic reveal new directions for development studies? This was the focus of discussion at a recent IDS seminar. A new paper in World Development on ‘post-pandemic transformations’ by a group of us at IDS was the starting point. Although the pandemic is far from over, some…

Challenging sustainability research: how can methods make a difference?

 by Marina Apgar and Rose Cairns, Methods theme convenors In this introductory blogpost for the STEPS theme on Methods, we discuss three meanings of sustainability research as ‘challenging research’. Methods make a difference to the potential of research to challenge power; yet power also deeply shapes the way research is framed, carried out and interpreted….

The STEPS Centre’s final year: reflections on a 15-year journey

by Ian Scoones and Andy Stirling, STEPS co-directors 2021 is the final year of the ESRC STEPS Centre. Established in 2006, but with an even longer backstory, we have come a long way. This blog post reflects on the journey, and looks forward to the future. As the formal version of the Centre at Sussex…