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Transformational knowledge practices in social-ecological systems
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3572-9275
2016 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic) [Artistic work]
Abstract [en]

Climate change and poverty alleviation are examples of interconnected challenges propelling changes across environmental, social, cultural and political spheres. Interconnected challenges are characterized by multiple causality, feedback loops, non-linear dynamics. Transformations, as fundamental reconfigurations of social-ecological relations, are increasingly proposed as a strategy for tackling interconnected challenges. Transformations seem to require a move towards diverse, integrated, imaginative, anticipatory, dynamic forms of knowledge making. Although new forms of knowledge creation are indeed emerging in sustainability science and practice, this area of studies is yet to yield a coherent research framework for analyzing the contribution of these practices to transformations in social-ecological systems. The central aim of this thesis is to a) provide a theoretical framework and b) to explore and assess feasibility and effectiveness of concrete knowledge practices that could help governance actors to move towards forms of deliberate transformations in the face of interconnected challenges. Two empirical research papers based on a case-study in Coastal Kenya are presented. In these papers we approached the interconnected challenges of social-ecological trade-offs by engaging multiple knowledge practices (ranging from dialogue, to narrative scenarios, participatory modelling and ecological modelling) to create a space for imagination and deliberation amongst governance actors and scientists. Assessment of this process was performed with a mixed methods research design, including interviews, surveys, and participant observation. Results suggest that overall, these knowledge practices supported: a) development of systemic and collaborative mindsets (Paper 1); b) revision of core assumptions (Paper 1); c) the identification of key cross-scale tradeoffs that were previously not considered by governance actors (Paper 2). These results highlight the potential of these knowledge practices in fostering knowledge relevant for re-imagination and reconfiguration of social-ecological systems. I conclude by proposing that transformational knowledge practices present at least four key elements in that they are: plural and coproduced, affect change across scales, involve multiple ways of knowing and foster imagination. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm University, 2016. , 64 p.
Keyword [en]
transformations, knowledge coproduction, participatory processes, creativity, art-science, scenarios
National Category
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126820OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-126820DiVA: diva2:903501
Presentation
2016-03-09, Kräftriket 2B, Stockholm, 09:09 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-02-16 Created: 2016-02-16 Last updated: 2016-02-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Evaluating taboo trade-offs in ecosystems services and human well-being
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evaluating taboo trade-offs in ecosystems services and human well-being
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2015 (English)In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, ISSN 0027-8424, E-ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 112, no 22, 6949-6954 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Managing ecosystems for multiple ecosystem services and balancing the well-being of diverse stakeholders involves different kinds of trade-offs. Often trade-offs involve noneconomic and difficult-to-evaluate values, such as cultural identity, employment, the well-being of poor people, or particular species or ecosystem structures. Although trade-offs need to be considered for successful environmental management, they are often overlooked in favor of win-wins. Management and policy decisions demand approaches that can explicitly acknowledge and evaluate diverse trade-offs. We identified a diversity of apparent trade-offs in a small-scale tropical fishery when ecological simulations were integrated with participatory assessments of social-ecological system structure and stakeholders' well-being. Despite an apparent win-win between conservation and profitability at the aggregate scale, food production, employment, and well-being of marginalized stakeholders were differentially influenced by management decisions leading to trade-offs. Some of these trade-offs were suggested to be taboo trade-offs between morally incommensurable values, such as between profits and the well-being of marginalized women. These were not previously recognized as management issues. Stakeholders explored and deliberated over trade-offs supported by an interactive toy model representing key system trade-offs, alongside qualitative narrative scenarios of the future. The concept of taboo trade-offs suggests that psychological bias and social sensitivity may exclude key issues from decision making, which can result in policies that are difficult to implement. Our participatory modeling and scenarios approach has the potential to increase awareness of such trade-offs, promote discussion of what is acceptable, and potentially identify and reduce obstacles to management compliance.

Keyword
coral reef fisheries, ecosystem-based management, participatory modeling, scenarios, gender
National Category
Other Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119158 (URN)10.1073/pnas.1414900112 (DOI)000355832200057 ()
Available from: 2015-08-12 Created: 2015-07-29 Last updated: 2016-02-16Bibliographically approved

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