Stewardship and transformative futures

Photo: R. Kautsky/Azote

This focus area explores the knowledge systems, values, meanings, practices, behaviours, and governance arrangements that can contribute to fair and just sustainable futures

From the local to global, unjust and unsustainable development are maintained by rigid systems of power. Indeed, creating a fair, prosperous world that maintains and strengthens Earth’s life-support systems requires transformative changes.

At the same time, research on biosphere stewardship – the active shaping of development trajectories for social-ecological resilience and human well-being – is essential to identify and understand the diverse ways in which individuals and societies are able and empowered to act in concert with nature, and cases where transformations are necessary.

In this theme we combine the research around:

• biosphere stewardship, directing attention to human-nature relationships that nurture biodiversity and Earth’s life-support systems, emphasizing notions of care, learning and collaboration

• research on social-ecological transformations highlighting the importance of agency, resistance, innovation and imagination to guide profound and fundamental change.

Exploration of novel theories

Our research explores the kinds of knowledge systems, values, meanings, practices, behaviours, and governance arrangements that can contribute to the adaptive or transformative capacity to navigate towards fair and just sustainable futures.

Transformations and biosphere stewardship research are connected and interdependent, both guided by the analysis and understanding of goals of fair, just and sustainable futures – in all their complexity and diversity; and both rooted in the knowledge-action interface.

Research in this theme encourages exploration of novel theories, methods and philosophical perspectives for studying social-ecological systems and system-wide cascading effects of change in diverse contexts.

Research builds on transdisciplinary approaches for mobilizing and co-constructing knowledge with actors at multiple scales, and for understanding and facilitating transformative change towards sustainable futures.

This transdisciplinary orientation is interrogated through reflexive research on the role, influence and positionality of researchers as change makers and transformative space-makers, and relationships with other actors in the pursuit of meaningful change.

Theme contacts


Theme contacts

Amanda Jimenez Aceituno

Vanessa Masterson


Stewardship & transformation news

Theme publications