new funding

New ERC advanced grant boosts centre’s research on transformative change

Stockholm Resilience Centre. Photo: Johannes Ernstberger

Centre researcher Maja Schlüter receives an European Research Council (ERC) advanced grant of 2.5 million euros for a project that aims to build models of, with and for sustainability transformations

“This is a wonderful opportunity to continue some of the exciting interdisciplinary work on the dynamics of social-ecological systems we have been doing as a team over the last 10 years,” says Maja Schlüter, upon receiving the news.

The new funding stems from the European Research Council (ERC), which is the European Union’s main body for funding frontier research. The council’s funds come in different schemes, of which centre researcher Maja Schlüter will now receive an Advanced Grant. She has previously even received a Starting Grant and a Consolidator Grant and is the first researcher at Stockholm University to secure all three.

While the need for sustainability transformations is ubiquitous, understanding why and how they succeed or fail is limited.

Centre researcher Maja Schlüter

The funded project “Building models of, with, and for sustainability transformations” will run for five years and is budgeted at approximately 2.5 million euros, circa 28 million SEK.

“The grant will fund research on processes of transformative change in the context of natural resource governance and food systems across the Global South and North. Its aim is to better understand how novel ideas, capacities, practices and system trajectories emerge and take root within existing socio-political, historical and ecological contexts,” explains Maja Schlüter.

She continues:

“It does so from a complexity perspective, particularly through bringing two perspectives into dialogue: a systemic and a process-relational one. We will combine empirical research, dynamic modelling and trans-disciplinary approaches to learn from past transformations of marine and agricultural governance in the Global North and South, and from engaging in current transformation in food systems in the Nordic Countries and Southern Africa.”

Why is this important to research?

“While the need for sustainability transformations is ubiquitous, understanding why and how they succeed or fail is limited. Understanding the complex dynamics of transformations requires approaches that bridge perspectives, and recognize the interdependent personal, political, social and ecological dynamics at play. This research aims to bridge scientific domains, through using intersecting concepts of crises, emergence, attractors and transformations to navigate these spaces and through processes of co-producing social-ecological models.”

She continues:

“This grant enables us to take some of our conceptual ideas and novel methodologies into the field, to explore the process of modelling as a tool for sense-making and theorizing transformative change processes from within the system, and to synthesise insights from working with systemic and process-relational perspectives of social-ecological systems.”

In the research project, Maja Schlüter and her team will try to overcome the dichotomy between what is social and what is ecological.

“We aim to open up new opportunities for sustainability science by establishing the conceptual and methodological foundations for research that goes beyond natural-social and science-practice divides. This will enable new ways of theorising that account for the complexity of cross-scale and interconnected social-ecological dynamics of the Anthropocene,” she explains.

This research aims to bridge scientific domains.

Centre researcher Maja Schlüter

The project will bring together an interdisciplinary team of researchers from SRC. Expertise ranges from transformation research and change-making processes (Michele-Lee Moore, Per Olsson) to process-relational philosophy (Tilman Hertz, Jamila Haider), dynamical systems (Sonja Radosavljevic), policy change (Kirill Orach), social relations and networks (Blanca González), social-ecological mechanisms and causation (Rodrigo Martinez) and agent-based modelling (the Seslink team).

“We will also hire four PhD students that will work on the role of crisis and attractors for transformative change from a complex adaptive systems or process-relational perspective,” says Maja Schlüter.

Topics: Funding
Published: 2023-03-30

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