Interacting Complexities

Photo: M. Almqvist/Azote

Photo: R. Kautsky/Azote

This focus area will provide a collaborative and inspiring space to advance understanding of how to address complex sustainability challenges by drawing on different complexity perspectives

Considering people and nature as deeply intertwined and co-evolving is foundational to our work at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC). To capture the complexities of these dynamic and intertwined social-ecological systems, this theme engages with a diverse set of perspectives on complexity from different disciplines and research fields, as well as from different knowledge systems.

Our work is characterised by inter- and transdisciplinary approaches, as well as an explicit engagement with assumptions and philosophical underpinnings of social-ecological systems research. Complexity-based approaches will help us in embracing and better understanding how to live with change and uncertainty, how development pathways could look like, and where we might find levers for transformation towards sustainable and just futures.

One particular strength of this theme is in developing theories and insights of social-ecological systems as complex adaptive systems and resilience thinking. Complex adaptive systems can be understood as a set of elements that interact and continuously adapt to the patterns they generate. This area of research dates back to the very beginnings of the centre in 2007 and remains a cornerstone of the work we are doing at the SRC and this theme.

The purpose of this focus area is to provide a collaborative and inspiring space to advance understanding of how to address complex sustainability challenges by drawing on different complexity perspectives.

Together, this theme will:

  • Develop empirically-grounded theories, methods and approaches to study the complexities of intertwined social-ecological systems

  • Foster collaborations across different disciplines and research fields, as well as from different knowledge systems, policy and practice to develop new ideas and insights on interacting complexities

Questions that inspire our research include:

  • How to think of intervention in complex systems? What are features of ‘complexity-sensitive’ policy?

  • How do novel macro-level phenomena emerge from micro-level interactions, and how, in turn, do these macro-level phenomena affect micro-level interactions?

  • How are contexts generated, maintained and dissolved over time? How does human behaviour shape and become shaped by its contexts?

  • How do inequalities at different scales affect the dynamics of social-ecological systems?

  • How do the structures of social-ecological systems and their teleconnections affect their dynamics?

  • What does complexity imply for prediction and generalisation?
  • How can we better understand and study the nature of causation in social-ecological systems?

  • How do different philosophical foundations enhance or limit our ability to understand and conceptualize complexities?

  • What factors and processes affect resilience and how can we assess them?

We tackle these questions with different inter- and transdisciplinary approaches and a diversity of cases from local to global scales around the world.

If you are interested in collaborating or funding our efforts, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us!

Theme contacts

Contact

Emilie Lindkvist

Caroline Schill

Juan Rocha

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