Transformative pathways in research and practice

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Modern industrial societies have developed increasingly disruptive modes of interaction with their natural environments resulting in global environmental crises like climate change and biodiversity loss. Despite decades of pleas, strategy papers and international conferences, these and other crises have not yet been adequately addressed. In fact, there is a growing scientific and political consensus that creating a more sustainable and equitable world requires far-reaching and unprecedented change in all aspects of society” (IPPC 2018). 

Against this backdrop, the term “transformation” has become prominent in the past years, both as a normative and an analytical concept. Broadly speaking, the term refers to processes of profound societal change, involving shifts in dominant imaginaries, practices and structures. However, there is no clear consensus regarding the precise meaning of the concept (e.g., what is to be transformed, how, by whom and to what end). This limits the terms applicability for empirical research and increases the risk of becoming a mere buzzword.

The project aims to address these issues and contribute to providing a more solid foundation for future empirical analyses and effective political intervention in South Tyrol and beyond. More specifically, it aims to a) examine how different theoretical approaches have conceptualised transformation in response to global environmental change and explore the role of research on and for transformation; b) analyse selected projects of Eurac Research to identify the main approaches to transformation in current research practice; c) scrutinise the role of governance in shaping transformation processes with a specific focus on the analysis of concrete policy documents in South Tyrol.