The Role of Making Connections in Creating Sustainability Transformations
As researchers, we constantly think about making connections. Connections between different ideas and concepts, between science and practice as well as different disciplines. It is also the connections in systems, which are relevant. The inauguration days of the research project ‘Processes of Sustainability Transformations’ of the Robert Bosch Foundation and Leuphana University created space to establish connections. Connections between humans, between divided areas of research, between different units of practice, between different perceptions of transformations. The list could go on continuously. These two days showed how we as researchers, as organizers, as practitioners etc. connect on a human scale and on system levels. For instance, Per Olsson from the Stockholm Resilience Center introduced the idea of connecting agency and system entrepreneurship when looking at change for sustainability. Maja Göpel, from the German Advisory Council on Global Change, underlined the importance of creating untried beginnings to establish fundamentally new ways of living – reminding us to connect in fundamentally new ways on human and system scales.
The system level: If we want to establish and understand connections on system levels, it means also to ask relevant questions. How can we think about processes of sustainability transformations while considering the boundaries of the systems we address and our scope of analysis? How can be aware of the connections of the different systems, for instance the biophysical realities, on which we base our research?
The human level: Humans are complex and diverse beings, connected and disconnected in so many ways. How can we understand how humans influence sustainability transformations and vice versa? How can we create insightful research for diverse stakeholder groups and thereby create new knowledge that connects?
Let’s make the connection between both. Between different human mindsets and the processes of systems that shape human actions. If we receive deeper insights in the reciprocity of systems and humans, this is a big step in making sustainability transformation processes happen.