About IST-2017

International Sustainability Transitions Conference 2017

“Taking the lead in real world transitions”

Year 2050 is just around the corner.

From a transition perspective, three decades is not a long time. Yet, the United Nations sustainable development goals are set for 2030, and the pace of climate change calls for rapid transformation of massive sociotechnical systems. The challenges are enormous.

Reaching ambitious societal targets at local and global levels relies on collective action, but also on private and public agents daring to take the lead in complex and open-ended processes.

Inspiringly enough, some organizations and countries have shown that they want to take the lead in realizing more sustainable societal systems. In the months preceding UNFCC COP 21 in Paris in 2015, an accelerating number of private companies and regions articulated ambitions to become frontrunners in low carbon transitions, and as one example, the government of the host country of this conference has set the bold goal of Sweden becoming the first fossil free welfare state.

However, while taking the lead may offer economic and social rewards, the challenge to follow through is enormous, and actors that take the lead will face specific challenges. The 8th International Conference on Sustainability Transitions will devote special attention to problems and challenges for agents that aspire to lead sustainable transitions, and to the intellectual challenges of understanding how to lead collective processes that, in one sense, cannot be led.  What type of conclusions can transition scholars bring to the table and what type of new knowledge do we need to develop? What type of theories and methods is required for making transition research a science for not only explaining, but also purposefully supporting, real life transitions?

For IST2017, we received more than 460 individual contributions from 37 different countries. The contributions have been organized in eleven different tracks:

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Leadership and Learning. The role of leadership and learning to support pro-active real world transitions. What does a transformative leadership entail on an international, national and local level, and what does it mean for business, academy and civil society?

Track chairs

  • John Holmberg, Chalmers University of Technology
  • Maja Göpel, Wuppertal Insitut
  • Derk Loorback, Drift

Entrepreneurship. The role of different forms of entrepreneurship: start-up, academic, corporate, institutional, etc. How can government and corporate policies enable entrepreneurship as a tool for transition?

  • Mats Lundqvist, Chalmers University of Technology
  • Simona Negro, Utrecht University

Micro accounts of collaborative innovation. In-depth analysis of transformative change processes and initiatives focusing om micro-dynamics such as motivation, social interaction, aspects of empowerment/disempowerment and sense making. Exploring the link between micro-dynamics to the broader context of collaborative innovation and transitions. Transition arenas, urban labs and social innovation initiatives are examples of research topics and contexts.

  • Rene Kemp, UNU-MERIT
  • Sanne Olilla, Chalmers University of Technology

Consumption practices and grassroot movements. This theme seeks to explore how changing life-styles and consumption patterns, different consumer groups and various social movements shape transition pathways. Are new transition routes imaginable in the age of global social media, prosumers, crowdfunding, open innovation etc.?

  • Wouter Boon, Utrecht University
  • Jörgen Larsson, Chalmers University of Technology

Politics and policy. What local, national and supra-national policy portfolios are required to stimulate and govern transitions? How is policy formed and how can advocates of various transition agendas engage with the political dimension? And more fundamentally, how is power and conflict articulated and handled in transitions?

  • Paula Kivimaa, University of Sussex
  • Björn Sandén, Chalmers University of Technology

Transformation of cities, regions and industries. How do regional and urban development pathways co-evolve with global industrial dynamics in greening and making industrial economies more socially responsible? What is the role of regional and urban governance arrangements, including smart specialization strategies and regional leadership?

  • Lars Coenen, University of Melbourne
  • Karl Palmås, Chalmers University of Technology

Sustainability transitions in developing economies. The geographical scope of transition studies and location of transition scholars is expanding. This track bring together transition studies undertaken in contexts beyond Europe and North America, and explore the theoretical and methodological advances, insights and questions emerging from this body of work.

  • Helene Alhborg, Chalmers University of Technology
  • Omar Masera, University of Mexico
  • Ilse Ruiz-Mercado, University of Mexico

Sustainability transitions and history. Socio-technical transitions are by definition historical processes and historical case studies have been instrumental in the development of analytical transition frameworks. Yet the relationship between transition research and history as academic disciplines is not straightforward and entail methodological tensions. What can transitions scholars learn from methods from historical research, and in which ways can transition research be useful for historians?

  • Johan Schot, University of Sussex
  • Anna Åberg, Chalmers University of Technology

Theoretical and methodological advances. This theme focuses on theory-building related to integrative frameworks addressing sustainability transitions such as the multi-level perspective (MLP), technological innovation systems (TIS), etc. The track contribute to the development of new and existing sustainability transitions concepts, frameworks, models and research methodologies

  • Anna Bergek, Chalmers University of Technology
  • Rob Raven, University of Utrecht

Modelling transitions and the role of quantitative assessment in transition governance. This theme explores the power and limitations of quantitative modelling of transitions. What new insights can be gained? What new modelling tools are being developed and, in times of ‘big data’, what new data repositories can fruitfully be mined? The track is also open for contributions discussing the role of quantitative models and assessment in transition debates and political processes.

  • Jonathan Koehler, Fraunhofer ISI
  • Kristian Lindgren, Chalmers University of Technology

New frontiers. The field of transition studies grows and is enriched by inclusion of ideas from a growing range of academic disciplines and by taking into account a variety of transformation processes in socio-technical space. In this track exciting new ideas that extend or challenge the existing body of literature are presented.

  • Claes Andersson, Chalmers University of Technology
  • Bernhard Truffer, EWAG

IST 2017 Conference session formats

Across the different thematic tracks, the conference will be structured using different formats:

  • Paper Sessions: 90 minute sessions with three full paper presentations and discussion.
  • Speed talk Sessions: 45 minute sessions with 4-5 short presentations, where an idea or a central research finding is presented in 4 minutes. The rest of the session is dedicated to interaction between the presenters and other session participants in small group discussions (app. 20-30 minutes) focusing on the individual presentations.
  • Dialogue Sessions: 90 minute sessions featuring paper presentations with a specific thematic focus, project presentations, panels, discussions or workshops related to the conference theme. The dialog sessions include non-academic participants and often contain innovative formats. All dialogue sessions have been prepared and submitted by an external session organizer.
  • Poster Session: posters will be displayed throughout the conference at a central location. There will also be a time slot exclusively dedicated to poster presentations.