Viewpoint with tourists

Answers on a postcard: how would you do technology differently?

Picture this… I like picture postcards. I like sending them, and I like receiving them. Despite the instantaneous advantages of Telegram and Twitter, or the range of Instagram and Facebook, my liking for postcards sent from A to B endures. Some I stick on my office wall, including the one above. Stuck above my desk…

Enabling Innovations

At the launch of STEPS America Latina in 2015, one of the themes that we focused on at our opening event was what we called ‘enabling’ innovations. These are new institutions, policies or technologies that are not only, themselves, a novel way of doing something or of solving a problem, but that also encourage and…

mobile payment kiosk

How transformative are mobile payments for solar home systems in Kenya?

by Victoria Chengo and Kennedy Mbeva, Africa Sustainability Hub The second Transformation Lab workshop (T-Lab) organised by the Africa Sustainability Hub was held in June in Nairobi, Kenya – one of six study sites in the international Pathways Network. As part of a 3-year process, the workshop discussed what needs to be done to enable…

Are alternative visions missing from the debates about sustainability transitions?

by Kasper Ampe, Michael Kriechbaum and Sofie Sandin In June 2018 we attended the IST (International Sustainability Transitions) conference in Manchester. It was a repeat visit for all of us, but this time we left the conference rather puzzled – with the STEPS Centre’s summer school in the back of our minds. In the summer…

Flag of Europe as a round plate with knife and fork

Is the new European ruling on GM techniques ‘anti-science’?

Frontstage rhetorics, backstage forces in current debates around the European Court of Justice ruling on GM crops There has been much commotion in the media over the past week, following the ruling by the European Court of Justice over how to interpret EU laws bearing on the regulation of GM crops. The ruling clarifies an…

BioLeft: experimenting with open source seed innovation in Argentina

by Patrick van Zwanenberg and Anabel Marin (Conicet / Cenit / UNSAM) It is sometimes said that plant breeders breed their aspirations about how agricultural production systems ought to function directly into their seed varieties. Over the last three decades there has been a collapse in the diversity of seed breeders (and with it the…

Contextualising life histories in Tamil Nadu

by Divya Sharma and V. Gajendra, Relational Pathways project In the Relational Pathways project we are trying to understand the pathways in and out of poverty for farmers in India and Kenya. ‘Green Revolutions’ are a prominent way of discussing how farmers can benefit from technology. In Tamil Nadu, India, we have been using a…

Open science hardware across the Andes

After an intense programme of Open Scientific Hardware (OScH) workshops in Argentina and Chile, researchers André Chagas (University of Tübingen) and Ben Paffhausen (Freie Universität, Berlin) go back home with less material in their luggage but with a bunch of future projects, new friends, stories… And empanadas, for sure! The workshops were organised by Fernan…

Training with women farmers in Kenya

Where is the agency of farmers in Africa’s ‘new Green Revolution’?

by Joanes Atela, Charles Tonui, Dominic Glover and Saurabh Arora Hunger and food insecurity have continued to persist in sub-Saharan Africa. To address these problems, during the last decade there has been a renewed thrust for a ‘new Green Revolution’ in Africa. In popular discourse, the Green Revolution (GR) is associated with a technology-led transformation…

Outdoor exhibition with prototype pedal tractor and solar panels

Forking the SDGs: How prototypes could transform the new global goals

Sustainable alternatives often come about through prototypes, from DIY electronics repair to ecohousing, agricultural tools to digital knowledge platforms. Prototypes are often small (at least to begin with) and local, but they can yield surprising results – sometimes becoming mainstream technologies like wind turbines, or ways of doing things like car clubs. This makes prototypes…