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How can we reveal power and bias when synthesising evidence for policy?

In a letter published today in Nature, STEPS co-director Andy Stirling and Clive Mitchell (Scottish Natural Heritage) suggest that ‘open-mindedness’ is a key principle in making evidence synthesis more useful for policy. From pesticides to epidemics or obesity, there is often demand for analysis of a vast range of evidence to help inform decision-making and…

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Opening up democratic politics for sustainable development: reflections from STEPS America Latina

The event that launched STEPS América Latina earlier this month, ‘Opening up the development agenda’, was a great workshop. It’s rare for a meeting of this kind to be so diverse yet so coherent. And this is especially so, on a topic as challenging as the transforming of development. Despite many differences in terms of…

Seeing the Anthropocene as a responsibility: to act with care for each other and for our planet

by Laura Pereira, University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa This post is my contribution to the debate on the Anthropocene initiated by Andy Stirling in his blog. His comments were sparked from a panel discussion at the Transformations conference where we were honoured to find ourselves on a panel together with Marcela D’Souza and…

Warning tape and turning points: how we talk about planetary boundaries

Last week, updated research on ‘planetary boundaries’ was published, with new analysis of what humanity is doing to various natural processes and the risks we face as a species. Reading the paper, I was struck by the prominence, alongside the various statistics and methodology, of something quite different: the authors spend some effort to define…

Political Ecology: resources, power and justice

With conceptual roots in political economy and cultural ecology, as well as close relationships with development studies and science and technology studies, the multidisciplinary field of political ecology shares a number of theoretical and methodological complementarities with the STEPS Centre’s pathways approach. In early September 2014, the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University hosted an…

LAND GRABS: CALL FOR NEW GRANT APPLICATIONS

By Julia Day, STEPS Centre Communications Manager Across the world, especially in the global South, there has been a dramatic rise in ‘land grabs’ – cross-border, transnational corporation-driven and, in some cases foreign government-driven, large-scale land deals. In-depth and systematic enquiry in to this issue has become a matter of urgency, and to that end,…

ANDY STIRLING ON SCIENCE & SCEPTICISM

After the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, John Beddington, called for scientists to be “grossly intolerant” of pseudo-science The point is that the basic aspirational principles of science offer the best means to challenge the ubiquitously human distorting pressures of self-serving privilege, hubris, prejudice and power. Among these principles are exactly the scepticism and tolerance…

SCIENCE, KNOWLEDGE, POWER & POLITICS: A NEW VIEW

“It’s no longer enough to think about power in a top-down manner – the people on whom, and in relation to whom, power gets exercised are an indispensable part of it,” said Sheila Jasanoff, explaining her theory of civic epistemology. Jasanoff, professor of science and technology studies at Harvard University took to the floor to…