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West, S., Haider, J.L., Stålhammar, S., Woroniecki, S. 2021. Putting relational thinking to work in sustainability science – reply to Raymond et al. Ecosystems and People, Volume 17, 2021 - Issue 1, https://doi.org/10.1080/26395916.2021.1898477
We welcome Raymond et al.’s invitation to further discuss the ‘pragmatics’ of relational thinking in sustainability science. We clarify that relational approaches provide distinct theoretical and methodological resources that may be adopted on their own, or used to enrich other approaches, including systems research. We situate Raymond et al.’s characterization of relational thinking in a broader landscape of differing approa...
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West, S., L. J. Haider, S. Stålhammar, and S. Woroniecki. 2020. A relational turn for sustainability science? Relational thinking, leverage points and transformations. Ecosystems and People 16(1):304–325.
In sustainability science, revising the paradigms that separate humans from nature is considered a powerful ‘leverage point’ in pursuit of transformations. The coupled social-ecological and human-environment systems perspectives at the heart of sustainability science have, in many ways, enhanced recognition across academic, civil, policy and business spheres that humans and nature are inextricably connected. However, in retai...
Norström, A. V., Cvitanovic, C., Löf, M.F., West S., Wyborn,. C., Balvanera, P. et.al. 2020. . Principles for knowledge co-production in sustainability research. Nature Sustainability 3 (1) doi 10.1038/s41893-019-0448-2
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...
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West, S., van Kerkhoff, L., Wagenaar, H. 2019. Beyond “linking knowledge and action”: towards a practice-based approach to transdisciplinary sustainability interventions, Policy Studies, 40:5, 534-555
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...
West., S., Haider, J.L., Masterson, V. et al. 2018. Stewardship, care and relational values. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. Available online 5 November 2018. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2018.10.008
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...
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Enqvist, J.P., West, S., Masterson, V., Haider, J.L., Svedin, U., Tengö, M. 2018. Stewardship as a boundary object for sustainability research: Linking care, knowledge and agency. Landscape and Urban Planning, Volume 179, November 2018, Pages 17-37
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...
Schultz, L., West, S., Bourke, A.J., d'Armengol, L., Torrents, P., Hardardottir, H., Jansson, A., Roldán, A., M. 2018. Learning to live with social-ecological complexity: An interpretive analysis of learning in 11 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. Global Environmental Change Volume 50, May 2018, Pages 75-87 DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.03.001
Learning is considered a means to achieve sustainability in practice and has become a prominent goal of sustainability interventions. In this paper we explore how learning for sustainability is shaped by meaning, interpretation and experience, in the context of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (BRs). The World Network of Biosphere Reserves brings environmental conservation, socio-economic development and research together in ‘learnin...
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West, S., R. Cairns, L. Schultz. 2016. What constitutes a successful biodiversity corridor? A Q-study in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. Biological Conservation 198: 183 – 192
‘Success’ is a vigorously debated concept in conservation. There is a drive to develop quantitative, comparable metrics of success to improve conservation interventions. Yet the qualitative, normative choices inherent in decisions about what to measure — emerging from fundamental philosophical commitments about what conservation is and should be — have received scant attention. We address this gap by exploring perceptions of w...
West, S., L. Schultz, S. Bekessy. 2016. Rethinking social barriers to effective adaptive management. Environmental Management 58: 399 – 416
Adaptive management is an approach to environmental management based on learning-by-doing, where complexity, uncertainty, and incomplete knowledge are acknowledged and management actions are treated as experiments. However, while adaptive management has received significant uptake in theory, it remains elusively difficult to enact in practice. Proponents have blamed social barriers and have called for social science contributi...
Cooke, B., S. West, W.J. Boonstra. 2016. Dwelling in the biosphere: exploring an embodied human– environment connection in resilience thinking. Sustainability Science 11(3): 1-13. doi: 10.1007/s11625-016-0367-3
Resilience has emerged as a prominent paradigm for interpreting and shaping human–environment connections in the context of global environmental change. Resilience emphasizes dynamic spatial and temporal change in social–ecological systems where humans are inextricably interwoven with the environment. While influential, resilience thinking has been critiqued for an under-theorized framing of socio-cultural dynamics. In this ...
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