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!
Interacting complexities news
Research news | 2023-05-31
Groundbreaking study quantifies safe and just Earth system boundaries
International commission proposes new safe and just boundaries for maintaining a healthy planet and protecting people from significant harm
Research news | 2022-10-31
Making it easier to measure resilience in practice
Resilience assessments should be more grounded in theory to be applicable in practice, according to a new study
Research news | 2022-09-13
Mutual interests and benefits are no guarantee for increased collaboration
Awareness of interdependencies may not promote, but instead even inhibit, exchange and dialogue between different policy actors
Research news | 2021-02-15
Getting to grips with the complexities of human behaviour
Caroline Schill on how there is more to humans than the rational mind, and why researchers studying human behaviour should care about complexity perspectives
Research news | 2021-02-01
The agents and their models
Centre researcher Emilie Lindkvist on using modelling to get to grips with the complexities and intertwinedness of humans and nature
Research news | 2021-01-22
Cultures, collapses and the quest to find Nemo
Centre theme leader Juan Rocha explains why sustainability science has much to gain from a complexity perspective
Inequality and the biosphere
In an unequal world, is it possible to acheive the Sustainable Development Goals? This project looks at synergies and trade-offs between certain goals
This project looks at approaches to causation in the social and natural sciences and their implications for theory building in sustainability science