West is a postdoctoral researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. His expertise lies in the sustainability, environmental and conservation social sciences.
West currently holds a Formas Early Career Mobility Starting Grant, for which he is exploring practices of collaborative and transdisciplinary knowledge-making in relation to Indigenous Land and Sea Management in Northern Australia.
He is also co-leading, together with centre researcher Caroline Schill, the Formas-funded project ‘Living with the new normal: exploring human responses to abrupt environmental change in the Arctic using behavioural and interpretive social science,’ which involves fieldwork in North Slope, Alaska. West is an Honorary Lecturer at the Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment and Society, and a Visiting Fellow at the Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University.
His research interests span three broad themes:
This involves the empirical study of knowledge-intensive initiatives, policies and management approaches in the conservation and sustainability sectors, including adaptive management, monitoring and evaluation, and evidence-based policy. In his current research in Northern Australia, West is drawing on insights from Interpretive Policy Analysis and Science and Technology Studies to explore the development of intercultural, multiple evidence-based approaches to the monitoring and evaluation of Indigenous ranger work.
In his PhD, completed in 2016, West studied practices of adaptive management in Australian national parks. His PhD was conducted within the GLEAN project (A Global Survey of Learning, Participation and Ecosystem Management in Biosphere Reserves), through which West also studied the development of biodiversity corridors and community-based monitoring programs in South African and Australian UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.
In particular, West draws on insights and approaches from the humanities and social sciences, including Interpretive Policy Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Indigenous Studies, Environmental Humanities, and Human Geography, to better understand key real-world problems and challenges in the practical pursuit of conservation and sustainability.
His PhD thesis, ‘Meaning and Action in Sustainability Science: Interpretive Approaches for Social-Ecological Systems Research,’ was the first to systematically relate interpretive research methodology to sustainability science.
As part of his current research in Northern Australia, West is participating in two collaborative action-research projects – the Intercultural Monitoring and Evaluation Project, and the Cultural Mapping Project – together with the Arafura Swamp Rangers Aboriginal Corporation, Olkola Aboriginal Corporation, conservation NGO Bush Heritage Australia, and various academic partners.
In the ‘New Normal’ project in Alaska, West is collaborating with the Village of Wainwright and the behavioural economist Caroline Schill, to explore how interpretive and behavioural social science can be brought together in practically useful ways to better understand and respond to rapid social-ecological change.
Finally, West has a keen interest in teaching and education. He has co-designed and run a PhD course, together with Wijnand Boonstra, titled ‘Why bother with Durkheim? Using (classical) social science to understand the social dynamics of social-ecological systems,’ and has also co-run with Lisen Schultz the SRC’s MSc programme course module ‘Adaptive Governance’ in 2015 and 2017.
West is currently studying for a Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Policy Development at Charles Darwin University, Australia.
Research news | 2019-12-09
New study demonstrates the benefits of developing new ideas about what knowledge and action are and how they relate to each other
Research news | 2019-08-28
Why the idea that scientific expertise rests on the strict application of pre-determined technical methods is misplaced
Research news | 2018-11-20
Several new and exciting projects will be initiated
Research news | 2018-09-18
Why the concept of stewardship offers a platform for collaboration and dialogue between actors, even with differing perspectives
2020 - Journal / article
Research practice, funding agencies and global science organizations suggest that research aimed at addressing sustainability challenges is most effective when ‘co-produced’ by academics and non-academics. Co-production promises to address the complex nature of contemporary sustainability challenges better than more traditional scientific approaches. But definitions of knowledge co-production are diverse and often contradictor...
2019 - Journal / article
The imperative to “link knowledge and action” is widely invoked as a defining characteristic of sustainability research. The complexities of sustainability challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss mean that linear models of knowledge and action, where knowledge is produced first (by researchers) then “applied to” action (by policy actors), are considered insufficient. Researchers have developed more dynamic, ope...
2019 - Journal / article
Stewardship is a popular term for describing action in pursuit of sustainability. There is growing interest in how relational values, such as care, animate stewardship action. In this paper we develop relational understandings of care in stewardship, in so doing infusing the relational values literature with modes of ‘relational thinking’ increasingly adopted in sustainability science. We use three theoretical perspectives — d...
2018 - Journal / article
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 di...