Governance of Socio-Technical Transformations (GOST)

Digital render of a city next to fields

Date: November 2018 – tbc

The GoST project will focus on transformation processes in three areas of crucial relevance to sustainable development, relating in particular to pressing imperatives in countries of the Global South:

  • energy systems,
  • agriculture, and
  • urban digital infrastructures.

Each implicates intricate North-South linkages that must be better understood for global sustainability efforts.

GoST will demonstrate feasible choices among alternative pathways for enacting socially progressive transformations towards sustainability.


Adopting a systematic comparative approach, GoST will use sociotechnical imaginaries as a conceptual tool to make sense of how collective imaginations of transformation help shape have determined present conditions.

Many challenges in the three focal areas are related to the prevailing imaginary, and solutions may require radically new imaginaries.

Through analysis of two interlinked parameters of transformation (dimensionality and temporality) across five nations (Germany, India, Kenya, UK, US), leading research centres in each will examine, in cooperation with key stakeholders, the differences between imagined and experienced states in each focal instance of transformation in each country.

By rethinking transformation through these lenses, GoST presents a methodologically innovative, integrative, empirically grounded approach that goes beyond usual characterizations of transformation as a linear process of development.

Expected outcomes and impacts

The project explores socially progressive transformations towards sustainability in energy, agriculture and digital urban infrastructures.

The project aims to produce insights of immediate practical importance on these transformations can best be governed: by whom, to what ends, by what means, and with what welfare consequences for affected groups.


Research team

  • Dr Silke Beck, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
  • Prof Andy Stirling, SPRU/STEPS Centre, University of Sussex


Andy Stirling [email protected]

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