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About the Hot Spot

What is transformative change? Transformative change is defined as a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values. Understanding transformative change is complex and requires multiple scientific perspectives and societal knowledge. TransAct connects researchers, who analyze environmental sustainability from different perspectives: micro to macro (i.e., individuals, companies, governments, civil society, international institutions, etc.) addressing questions of transformative change and its governance.

This Hot Spot focuses on three overarching research questions:

  • What is the role of governance in sustainability transformations?  How are societal transformations managed on the long-term and the short-term? How do institutions enable or hinder transformations?  What are mismatches between short-term politics and long-term goals? How do power dynamics constitute and influence transformative change?
  • What is the role of discourses in sustainability transformations? How do actors differ in their understandings of sustainability? What are different perceptions of what constitutes a ‘sustainable society’? How can the relationship between humans and nature be conceptualized?
  • What is the role of practices, models and instruments in sustainability l transformations? What are alternative economic, business and social models and their potential to contribute to sustainability transformations?

These research questions are considered from: (1) an analytical perspective, i.e. understanding the governance mechanisms, processes, and drivers of transformative change (or the lack thereof); (2) a critical perspective, i.e. critically reflecting on the (environmental justice) implications of transformative change (or the lack thereof) for humans and non-humans; and (3) a practice-oriented perspective, i.e. developing  tangible alternatives or recommendations on how to achieve and accelerate transformative change for environmental sustainability in practice.

What does our Hot Spot offer?

TransAct is a centre of expertise focusing on understanding transformative change and critically reflecting on the consequences of change (or the lack thereof).

TransAct is an instrument to actively contribute to transformative change:

  • by strengthening interdisciplinary collaboration and fostering joint research activities (including research networks beyond IMR);
  • by strengthening meaningful collaboration with non-academic partners (public authorities, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, civil society) to bolster societal impact and debate (e.g., by identifying societal research needs together with stakeholders and co-designing research); and
  • by including students to support them in their journey to becoming pro-active members of our society contributing to change.

To analyze and contribute to transformative change, members of TransAct:

  • empirically contribute to current fundamental debates: energy transition; circularity; climate adaptation and mitigations, climate justice, values of nature, etc.;
  • develop, apply and advance innovative methodologies (such as Action Research, creative methodologies, participatory intervention methods (e.g., co-creative digital platforms, futuring, etc.) that help accelerate transformative change for sustainability, whilst also critically reflecting on, and improving, current methodologies;
  • theoretically and conceptually advance our understanding of societal transformations and translate this knowledge into concrete action.