‘Pathways’ Network: Transformative pathways to sustainability

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This project carries out comparative research in six countries to explore how to work with local people on social transformations in the context of environmental change. We are conducting ‘Transformation Labs’ (T-Labs) with groups in each country (China, Kenya, Argentina, Mexico, India and the UK) to address a specific socio-ecological problem. We are hoping to provoke change through the T-Labs, as well as testing how they can be designed to be as effective as possible.

The project covers three areas:

  • Sustainable agricultural and food systems for healthy livelihoods
  • Low carbon energy transitions that serve the needs of the poor
  • Waste and water for sustainable cities



Methods vignettes

Descriptions of methods used or adapted as part of the PATHWAYS Network project.

  • Evaluation H A method adapted for use in the Brighton & Hove (UK) T-lab
  • Agency Network Analysis A method developed by the North America hub for use in Xochimilco, Mexcio City (the North America T-lab)



About the project

The ‘Transformative Pathways to Sustainability’ project builds links and allows the exchange of ideas between researchers in Latin America, Europe, Africa, China, North America and South Asia. It is one of the activities of the Pathways to Sustainability Global Consortium, which STEPS launched in 2015-6.

In 6 sites (in Argentina, Mexico, Kenya, China, the UK and India) the project will run ‘Transformation Labs’ (T-Labs) to develop innovative responses to socio-ecological problems. The T-Labs will use creative methods to explore people’s visions, values and ideas for transformation.

Methods and capacity building

There is a strong focus on learning, creating dialogue between researchers and non-academics; and developing and combining research methods in an interdisciplinary way.

T2S-LogoThe project is one of three “Transformative Knowledge Networks” funded as part of the innovative Transformations to Sustainability Programme of the International Social Science Council (ISSC). It started in 2016 and will run for three years.

The programme is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).


Adrian Ely, SPRU/ESRC STEPS Centre, UK

Patrick van Zwanenberg, Fundacion CENIT/STEPS America Latina, Argentina

Project partners


CONICET, Argentina

African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), Kenya

Beijing Normal University, China

Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

Arizona State University, USA

Laboratorio Nacional de Ciencias de la Sostenibilidad (LANCIS), Instituto de Ecología, UNAM, Mexico

Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden


IDS 50 (conference panel): Sustainability transformations: the intersecting roles of state, market and society
5 July 2016, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Webinar: Transformative Knowledge Networks – solutions-oriented research in practice (video + slides)
6 July 2016

Presenting research at Resilience 2017 and Transformations 2017
August and September 2017

Background resources

Agricultural and food systems

In particular, researchers from Latin America and Europe will work together on this theme.

‘Future of seeds’ workshop, Argentina, November 2014 (blog – in Spanish)

Concept note: Transformations to sustainable food systems  in Brighton & Hove

Concept note: The future of seeds (and agriculture) in Argentina

Low carbon energy

In particular, researchers from China and Africa will work together on this theme.

Workshop on low carbon transitions, China, December 2014 (event page)

Concept note: Africa – low carbon energy transitions

Concept note: Low-carbon energy transitions that meet the needs of the poor in China

Water, waste & sustainable cities

In particular, researchers from India and North America/Mexico will work together on this theme.

Concept note: water, waste and sustainable cities in India

Concept note: Water Governance Challenges, Mexico City and Phoenix


International Social Science Council website

Pathways to Sustainability Global Consortium



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