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…

New insights on navigating complexity in development

by Marina Apgar and Eric Kasper, Institute of Development Studies The challenges of development are complex. Insights about the nature of complexity – coming from various scientific disciplines – lead us to conclude that complex adaptive (social) systems cannot be managed in a formal top-down sense. The best we can do is to find ways…

Food market in Madagascar

The global food system still benefits the rich at the expense of the poor

Ramen noodles in Sweden, wheat bread in Tanzania and Chilean wines in China. The cross-Atlantic transit of the potato and the tomato from the Andes to Europe, and back again as French fries and pasta sauce. We think of the world as globalised and sophisticated in its food tastes, and our palettes as curious and…

The Wicked Foundations of the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene describes how human society has now become the dominant force on Earth’s geology and ecosystems. The notion of the Anthropocene highlights a confounding contradiction: we have an unprecedented ability to control the world around us, yet we are using this power to destroy the preconditions for our own existence, and we seem strangely…

African Farmer: a new online game

African Farmer, a free, open source online game, has been launched by the Future Agricultures Consortium and the University of Sussex. The game, conceived by a team including the STEPS Centre’s Agriculture convenor John Thompson, simulates the complex decisions and uncertainties faced by small-scale farmers living in Sub-Saharan Africa. It aims to challenge and engage…

VIRUS AND BEAST: HOW ONE WORD CHANGES EVERYTHING

Batman and Robin: fighting crime How does a single word affect the way we deal with a problem? Last night’s edition of All In The Mind on BBC Radio 4 offered a striking example. Researchers at the University of Stanford worked with two groups of people, asking them how they would respond to rising crime…

COMPLEXITY SCIENCE & DEVELOPMENT

In a world where systems change and interact unpredictably, there’s a growing interest in using complexity science to tackle questions in international development. Our director Melissa Leach spoke last month at a UKCDS workshop on complexity science and international development (Melissa’s slides are on our Slideshare). Ben Ramalingam, visiting fellow at IDS, has written some…

VIDEO: MELISSA LEACH AT NESS 2011

Melissa Leach, STEPS Centre Director, spoke at NESS 2011 (The 10th Nordic Environmental Social Science Conference) in Stockholm last week. Her talk (56 minutes), “Pathways to sustainability? Environmental social science and justice in a complex, dynamic age” explains the STEPS Centre’s work in the context of the rapidly changing, complex world we live in. Video…