Dear transition research colleagues,
I am happy to send you another chuck-full newsletter with many interesting items and developments, some of which I highlight below.
First, we are in the process of making some changes on the STRN-website (http://www.transitionsnetwork.org/). To facilitate interactive discussion, we are introducing a blog functionality, where members can exchange their views on particular issues, post news or engage in debates. Our hope is that members will use this blog functionality for more general issues, rather than advertising individual projects or papers. We want to start with a relatively simple blog policy: everyone is invited to contribute. If you want to blog, please send an email to email@example.com, with your idea, or with your entire blog. After a quick screening, we will quickly post the blog. Blogs will be written on a personal basis. We will also introduce a functionality on the STRN-website that enables STRN-members to change their own email address in case they move. This will hopefully lessen the burden on Rob Raven, who has so far made these changes by hand. We hope these new functionalities will further support the transitions community.
Second, some weeks ago members of the STRN board have written a letter to the new editor of Energy Policy to warn that newly adopted editorial policies may have negative consequences for adventurous papers on big topics (such as sustainability transitions). These policies, the gist of the letter, and the response from the editor are reported below.
Third, the newsletter notes that an influential bi-annual report from the OECD pays dedicated attention to system innovation and grand challenges. An in-depth OECD report on system innovation is expected in 2015, which would further introduce and legitimize the topic in high-level policy circles.
Fourth, the newsletter contains an announcement regarding the sixth International Sustainability Transitions conference (25-28 August, 2015), organized by SPRU in Brighton (UK). This promises to be a very exciting conference, including new discussion formats, stakeholder interaction and a summer party (to bring your dance shoes.....).
The newsletter also contains other news updates, event reviews, and new research projects. Very striking in this newsletter is an explosion of transition papers in a wide range of journals, which is not only encouraging for the field, but also reinforces the trend towards diversification in terms of topics, frameworks, journals and empirical domains. With regard to the latter, it seems that more books and papers have appeared that address transitions in agro-food. This is important, because agro-food, forestry and land-use account for about 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the recent IPCC report, which is almost as much as electricity and heat (25%) and more than transport (14%). A focus on food is also interesting, because food systems differ in several ways from electricity and transport-systems, which have been the bulk of many transition papers. So, studying agro- food transitions may require making conceptual changes to accommodate domain-specific characteristics. On the other hand, it is also encouraging to see that transitions thinking offers useful insights for agro-food scholars. An article by the president of the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society (Hinrichs, 2014) explicitly embraces transitions thinking because it “enlarges our thinking about food systems change”. The publications section also contains various papers about transitions in buildings, which may equally require conceptual adjustments to accommodate empirical characteristics (e.g. many small companies, no clear ‘dominant design’ but interactions between multiple components, greater variety, especially in the non-domestic sector). So, scholars continue to generate new insights, puzzles, problems and questions, which are important for a vibrant research community.
I wish you all a happy Christmas and a stimulating 2015, and hope to see you at some future event.