Arduino unit

Can open and collaborative approaches change the world?

by Patrick van Zwanenberg, Mariano Fressoli, Valeria Arza and Adrian Smith Around the world, people are changing how things are made and how knowledge is produced, by involving more people, opening up data, and sharing skills and insights with these activities across communities, countries or continents. Experimentation with radically open and collaborative ways of producing…

Solar power

Unpacking sustainabilities in diverse transitions contexts: Four key lessons from empirical research

In the late 18th century, an Indian philosopher and religious leader offered a piece of knowledge to his followers. Taking into account the diverse religious faiths that exist in societies, he proclaimed that there are as many ways [to God] as there are faiths. The plurality of perspectives and interpretations in sustainability debates astonishingly reminds…

Argentina workshop

Could new alliances for seeds in Argentina be a way to nurture agricultural diversity?

Over the last three decades there has been an unprecedented process of concentration in world and regional seed markets. Seed R&D has shifted from being widely distributed over hundreds of medium and large seed firms and public sector institution to being heavily concentrated in just five or six multinational agro-chemical firms.

Mobile phone with Kenyan shillings

How can solar power be part of transformations to sustainability in Kenya?

Transforming pro-poor energy access is a priority goal for many countries in Africa. Many poorer households are not connected to the grid, so use kerosene, paraffin or batteries, or have to travel to charge mobile phones. In Kenya, solar home systems (SHS) via mobile payment systems are tackling this problem by giving access to renewable…

A woman unscrews a laptop with a screwdriver.

Power to the people: making & politics at the Science Museum

by Cian O’Donovan and Adrian Smith The maker movement in the UK, and globally, has grown rapidly over recent years. Hundreds of maker spaces, equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, design software, as well as old-fashioned hand tools, have popped up in cities, towns and on university campuses, potentially promising new forms of re-distributed and…

Close up image of circuit board lines.

What can we learn from digital transformations?

by Nathan Oxley and Adrian Smith With climate change, inequality, and injustice putting pressure on societies around the world, it often seems that incremental change towards sustainable development is not enough. A growing number and variety of alliances between organisations across civil society, business, politicians and states are calling for something more transformational. So are…

What we talk about when we talk about technology

In casual conversation ‘technology’ usually means something like a device, gadget or machine. Your smartphone for instance, or the satellite navigation system in your car; maybe the car itself, why not? But this conception of technology soon collapses if you subject it to a few quick tests. For example, try asking: Where is the technology?…

Six grassroots innovation movements, and why they matter

Innovation is increasingly said to be vital for responding to global challenges like sustainable development. Often overlooked, however, is the fact that networks of community groups, activists and researchers have been innovating grassroots solutions for social justice and environmental sustainability for decades. A new STEPS book, Grassroots Innovation Movements (Routledge, 2016) examines six such movements…

Beyond two-dimensional perspectives: Sustainable energy access as adaptation and mitigation?

Earlier this year, the Institute of Development Studies convened a one day meeting of scholars to discuss the emerging field of the politics of climate change adaptation. I study sustainable energy access, which doesn’t conventionally get counted as adaptation, so I wondered to what extent the politics of adaptation extends to the framing of sustainable…

Digital fabrication. Whose industrial revolution?

As the Society for Social Studies of Science & EASST build up to their annual meeting in Barcelona next month, the 4S blog is featuring preview pieces by participants. One is by Johan Söderberg, Maxigas, and Adrian Smith, with a taste of their paper about democratizing the tools of scientific-technical expertise.  The last wave of…