Geography of Sustainability Transitions (GeoST)


Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The aim of this thematic group is to develop an open forum for theoretically informed debates on the spaces, places and scales at which sustainability transitions unfold. It will foster dialogue between and across disciplines in order to develop spatial perspectives on sustainability transitions.

Over the past ten years, it has become increasingly evident, that a more elaborate geographical perspective on transition dynamics is needed. Many of today’s grand challenges transcend the boundaries of specific cities, regions, or nations as translocal/transnational spatial relationships and multi-scalar factors play a significant role in shaping transition dynamics and possibilities. At the same time, places differ in their structural preconditions and the capacity to engage in experimenting with radically new socio-technical configurations. Where and how transitions unfold depends on change dynamics that co-evolve between (and have impacts on) various places around the world in spatially highly complex and uneven ways.

The thematic group will foster dialogue on emerging research streams comprising (but not limited to):

  1. Developing a multi-scalar take on key transition concepts like technological innovation systems, niche experimentation, or socio-technical regimes
  2. Understanding the context-specific structural conditions and dynamics that enable/constrain ‘green’ path development in cities, regions, and countries
  3. Elucidating the place-making politics and the spatially unequal impacts of sustainability transitions
  4. Understanding how transition and green innovation dynamics co-evolve between different regions of the world, and especially between developed, emerging and developing economies

We aim at creating an open and inclusive forum of exchange that enables the transitions community to benefit from salient theoretical and empirical debates in closely related fields. Our group will facilitate scholarly exchange through scientific activities, e.g. at international conferences and in focused workshops and webinars, but in the mid-term we also seek to promote GeoST thinking among practitioners, especially with civil society groups and policy-makers.

As a first step, we have organized two webinar series that feature debates between transition scholars and geographers on salient theoretical interfaces. In combination with our website and twitter account, we have created an online meeting venue for scholars in the research community.

Future activities:

  • Organize special sessions at international conferences, i.e. IST 2021, GCEG 2021
  • Create a working paper series on the geography of innovation and transitions
  • Craft joint papers, special issues, edited volumes etc. in geography and transition outlets
  • Organize workshops and a follow-up webinar and creating synergies with closely related STRN thematic groups (i.e. on urban transitions and transitions in the Global South)

We welcome anyone interested in contributing to the group. Currently, Christian Binz, Bernhard Truffer, Lars Coenen, Jim Murphy, Gesa Pflitsch, Johan Miörner, Christina Hoicka, Toon Meelen, Markus Steen, Teis Hansen, Xiaoshan Yap, Jonas Heiberg, Huiwen Gong, and Pinar Majidova are managing the group’s activities.

If you are interested in contributing, please get in touch with christian.binz@eawag.ch.