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Stewardship as a boundary object for sustainability research: Linking care, knowledge and agency
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9738-0593
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5379-9309
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0265-5356
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Number of Authors: 62018 (English)In: Landscape and Urban Planning, ISSN 0169-2046, E-ISSN 1872-6062, Vol. 179, p. 17-37Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Current sustainability challenges - including biodiversity loss, pollution and land-use change require new ways of understanding, acting in and caring for the landscapes we live in. The concept of stewardship is increasingly used in research, policy and practice to articulate and describe responses to these challenges. However, there are multiple meanings and framings of stewardship across this wide user base that reflect different disciplinary purposes, assumptions and expertise, as well as a long history of use in both academic and lay contexts. Stewardship may therefore be considered a 'boundary object'; that is, a conceptual tool that enables collaboration and dialogue between different actors whilst allowing for differences in use and perception. This paper seeks to map out the multiple meanings of stewardship in the literature and help researchers and practitioners to navigate the challenges and opportunities that come with using the term. We provide the first qualitative systematic review of stewardship, and identify four distinct meanings of the concept in the literature: Ethic, Motivation, Action and Outcome. We then develop a novel framework for thinking through and connecting these multiple meanings, centered around three dimensions: care, knowledge and agency. This framework is used to identify the care dimension and relational approaches as important areas for future stewardship research. In these efforts - and for scholars engaging with the stewardship concept more broadly - this paper can act as a helpful 'centering device', connecting practitioners, policy-makers and researchers from multiple disciplines in pursuit of sustainability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 179, p. 17-37
Keywords [en]
Anthropocene, Environmental ethics, Human-nature relations, Literature review, Natural resource management
National Category
Biological Sciences Social and Economic Geography Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-160999DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2018.07.005ISI: 000444927200002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-160999DiVA, id: diva2:1256006
Available from: 2018-10-15 Created: 2018-10-15 Last updated: 2019-07-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Stewardship in an urban world: Civic engagement and human–nature relations in the Anthropocene
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Stewardship in an urban world: Civic engagement and human–nature relations in the Anthropocene
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Never before have humans wielded a greater ability to alter and disrupt planetary processes. Our impact is becoming so noticeable that a new geological epoch has been proposed – the Anthropocene – in which Earth systems might no longer maintain the stable and predictable conditions of the past 12 millennia. This is particularly evident in the rapid expansion of urban areas, where a majority of humans now live and where environmental changes such as rising temperatures and habitat loss are happening faster than elsewhere.  In light of this, questions have been raised about what a more responsible relationship between humans and the rest of the planet might look like. Scholars in sustainability science employ the concept of ‘stewardship’ in searching for an answer; however, with multiple different applications and definitions, there is a need to better understand what stewardship is or what novelty it might add to sustainability research. This thesis investigates stewardship empirically through two case studies of civic engagement for protecting nature in cities – Bengaluru, India and New York City, USA. Further, the thesis also proposes a conceptual framework for how to understand stewardship as a relation between humans and the rest of nature, based on three dimensions: care, knowledge and agency. This investigation into stewardship in the urban context uses a social–ecological systems approach to guide the use of mixed theory and methods from social and natural sciences. The thesis is organized in five papers. Paper I reviews defining challenges in managing urban social–ecological systems and proposes that these can more effectively be addressed by collaborative networks where public, civic, other actors contribute unique skills and abilities. Paper II and Paper III study water resource governance in Bengaluru, a city that has become dependent on external sources while its own water bodies become degraded and depleted.Paper II analyzes how locally based ‘lake groups’ are able to affect change through co-management arrangements, reversing decades of centralization and neglect of lakes’ role in Bengaluru’s water supply.Paper III uses social–ecological network analysis to analyze how patterns in lake groups’ engagements and collaborations show better fit with ecological connectivity of lakes.Paper IV employs sense of place methods to explore how personal bonds to a site shapes motivation and goals in waterfront stewardship in New York City. Finally,Paper V reviews literature on stewardship and proposes a conceptual framework to understand and relate different uses and underlying epistemological approaches in the field. In summary, this thesis presents an empirically grounded contribution to how stewardship can be understood as a human–nature relation emergent from a deep sense ofcare and responsibility, knowledge and learning about how to understand social–ecological dynamics, and theagency and skills needed to influence these dynamics in a way that benefits a greater community of humans as others. Here, the care dimension is particularly important as an underappreciated aspect of social–ecological relations, and asset for addressing spatial and temporal misalignment between management institutions and ecosystem. This thesis shows that care for nature does not erode just because green spaces are degraded by human activities – which may be crucial for promoting stewardship in the Anthropocene.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 2017
Keywords
agency, Bengaluru, boundary object, care, civil society, community, environmental ethics, knowledge, natural resource management, New York City, problem of fit, rigidity trap, sense of place, social–ecological system, urbanization, water governance
National Category
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Oceanography, Hydrology and Water Resources Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-146193 (URN)978-91-7649-933-7 (ISBN)978-91-7649-934-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-10-13, Vivi Täckholmssalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Mistra - The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental ResearchSida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, AKT-2010-046
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-09-20 Created: 2017-08-30 Last updated: 2019-07-16Bibliographically approved

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