New insights on navigating complexity in development

by Marina Apgar and Eric Kasper, Institute of Development Studies The challenges of development are complex. Insights about the nature of complexity – coming from various scientific disciplines – lead us to conclude that complex adaptive (social) systems cannot be managed in a formal top-down sense. The best we can do is to find ways…

Boundary object

The Transformation Labs (T-Labs) approach to change

The PATHWAYS Network is exploring solutions to problems in six sites (in Argentina, China, Kenya, India, Mexico and the UK) where socio-ecological systems are transforming. To intervene in these transformations, the project is convening multi-stakeholder processes called ‘transformation labs’ (T-Labs) in order to foster change in the systems being studied by each hub.

Theory of change

What ‘agency’ do researchers have in transformative research projects?

by Hallie Eakin, Lakshmi Charli-Joseph and J. Mario Siqueiros In our PATHWAYS network case  in Xochimilco, Mexico City, we are exploring whether people can have ‘agency’ to make a difference to very complex socio-ecological problems. Xochimilco is a degraded but very culturally, ecologically and economically meaningful wetland system in the south of Mexico City. In…

slide with notes about resilience

How do we ensure values are at the heart of resilience science?

We live and work now perhaps more than ever before in the time of science for transformation. This was the central theme of discussions in Stockholm during the Resilience 2017 and Sustainability Science conferences held back to back from 21-26 August. The transformative intention of these events is particularly relevant at this time of increasing…

group discussion

Coming to terms with messiness: What is a ‘Transformation Lab’?

In this blog post, Laura Pereira explains the idea of a ‘Transformation Lab’ (T-lab). T-labs are being used in our Pathways Network project in 6 countries to try to enable socio-ecological transformations. In the post, Laura uses an example of a completed T-lab from the GRAID research project in South Africa. For a short summary…

Training group in Lomerio

Research, convening and bridging: sharing insights from the ISSC’s Transformative Knowledge Networks

by Adrian Ely (co-lead, ‘Pathways’ Network), with contributions from Joanes Atela, Mirna Inturias, Dylan McGarry, Iokiñe Rodríguez & Patrick Van Zwanenberg Working with the World Social Science Council’s ‘Transformations to Sustainability’ programme brings the privilege of engaging with an incredible range of scholars and practitioners from across the globe. The programme’s three transformative knowledge networks…

Farmers' jury

Using a “farmers’ jury” to see Nicaragua’s food system from rural perspectives

Jorge Irán Vásquez Zeledón, a participant in the project on Transitions to Agroecological Food Systems based in Nicaragua, has written a blog post (in Spanish) about a “Farmers’ Jury” organised in connection to the project. The event aimed to investigate farmers’ views on the state of agroecological systems in Nicaragua, and what challenges need to…

Mapping exercise in Cambodia

Putting research to use in addressing complex development challenges: are we ready?

by Marina Apgar and Boru Douthwaite The Sustainable Development Goals provide a framework that may open up space to move beyond the siloes of disciplines and sectors. Those of us inclined to see development as systemic and who, through our research practice, engage with stakeholders in the messiness of uncovering solutions to seemingly intractable problems…

City street

How understanding politics and science can help create resilient cities

A new article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) explores how urban resilience can be strengthened by considering social and political norms, values and behaviours alongside engineering and environmental science approaches. The article, Urban resilience efforts must consider social and political forces, is written by colleagues at Arizona State University and UNAM…

world map made out of food

How open science practices in evaluation systems can make research socially relevant for developing countries

Researchers’ choices are inevitably affected by assessment systems. This often means pursuing publication in a high-impact journal and topics that appeal to the international scientific community. For researchers from developing countries, this often also means focusing on other countries or choosing one aspect of their own country that has such international appeal. Consequently, researchers’ activities…