Designing transformative spaces for sustainability in social-ecological systems

Laura M. Pereira, Timothy Karpouzoglou, Niki Frantzeskaki, Per Olsson

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialAcademic

23 Citations (Scopus)


Transformations toward sustainability have recently gained traction, triggered in part by a growing recognition of the dramatic socio-cultural, political, economic, and technological changes required to move societies toward more desirable futures in the Anthropocene. However, there is a dearth of literature that emphasizes the crucial aspects of sustainability transformations in the diverse contexts of the Global South. Contributors to this Special Feature aim to address this gap by weaving together a series of case studies that together form an important navigational tool on the “how to” as well as the “what” and the “where to” of sustainability transformations across diverse challenges, sectors, and geographies. They propose the term “transformative space” as a “safe-enough” collaborative process whereby actors invested in sustainability transformations can experiment with new mental models, ideas, and practices that can help shift social-ecological systems onto more desirable pathways. The authors also highlight the challenges posed to researchers as they become “transformative space-makers,” navigating the power dynamics inherent in these processes. Because researchers and practitioners alike are challenged to provide answers to complex and often ambiguous or incomplete questions around sustainability, the ideas, reflections and learning gathered in this Special Feature provide some guidance on new ways of engaging with the world.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Global south
  • Sustainability
  • Transdisciplinary
  • Transformation
  • Transition

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