Stories of Change

From 2006-2021, the ESRC STEPS Centre explored pathways to sustainability – showing the important roles that marginalised ideas, knowledge and forms of action could play in responding to complex social, technological and environmental challenges.

Along the way, we were involved in many process of change, from local struggles to high-level international debates. These Stories of Change explore some key themes from STEPS work, to share what we learned.

Story 1

The story of STEPS – exploring pathways to sustainability

The ESRC STEPS Centre came a long way since it was established in 2006. In this introduction, STEPS co-directors Ian Scoones and Andy Stirling reflect on the journey, and identify the key events, achievements and relationships that helped to shape the STEPS Centre's work.

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Story 2

Pandemic Politics

From avian flu and Ebola to the Covid-19 pandemic, STEPS research uncovered the controversies and politics of disease outbreaks and global health.

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Story 3

Climate change and low-carbon development pathways

Responding to climate disruption is sometimes seen as a technical and scientific challenge. But achieving climate justice is about much more, as STEPS work on technology, cultures and social transformations shows.

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Story 4

Making futures: the politics of science, technology and innovation

Our work on science, technology and innovation suggested how these could be shaped in more democratic ways. Grassroots innovation shows the vital role of relationships, values and shared ideas.

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Story 5

From land grabs to the Anthropocene: exploring the politics of resources

From exposing land grabbing and carbon forestry, to debates about the Anthropocene and ecological crisis, STEPS work explored how people view and interact with the nature(s) around them.

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Story 6

Exploring pathways to sustainable agriculture and food systems

From different pathways for maize farmers in Kenya, to land grabbing and livestock, STEPS research has explored the complex politics of food.

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Story 7

Transformations to sustainability: confronting politics and power

To pursue sustainable futures, transformation is needed - not just incremental shifts or policy transitions. We explored what this means in practice, recognising the role of politics, social justice and confronting incumbent power.

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Story 8

Why embracing uncertainty means rethinking approaches to sustainability and development

Uncertainty is all around - from climate change and pandemics to financial markets and insurance. But why are some forms of uncertainty often ignored or downplayed, and what difference can it make to recognise and appreciate them?

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Story 9

Reshaping development goals

The story of how STEPS intervened in global debates around visions and plans for sustainability, from Rio+20 to the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Story 10

Navigating a tangled web: how STEPS helped to build a community of new sustainability professionals

From Summer Schools to establishing a global consortium - the story of how we shared insights and learned from networks of researchers and practitioners around the world.

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