Knowledge co-production for sustainability transformations

Last changed: 22 April 2021
Game pieces in different colors on a game board, photo.

Transdisciplinary knowledge production is often cited as a more legitimate way to support sustainability transitions under conditions characterized by complexity and urgency.

In contrast to traditional modes of knowledge production, this approach transcends the scientific peer group, by bringing on board a rich diversity of perspectives, values and interests from multiple stakeholders from different sectors, as well as actors from different societal intersections, to support creative, inclusive, and meaningful collaborations.

Within Mistra Environmental Communication, we examine the capability of environmental communication embodied in transdisciplinary knowledge co-production to enable new forms of practice and processes to support transitions towards sustainable futures. We work together with a broad range of societal partners in the following cases:

Carbon farming in Sweden and Australia

Carbon farming is an emerging approach where farmers and landholders apply changes in land management practices to capture atmospheric CO2 and sequester it as carbon in agricultural soils and vegetation as well as generate other co-benefits. Owing to its potential to offset the emission of greenhouse gas (GHG), carbon farming is increasingly being considered as an important mechanism to both achieve emission reduction goals in line with the Paris Agreement, and contribute to a transition to a climate-positive society. Australia has the world’s most well-established carbon farming policy, whereas in Sweden, despite its ambitious climate targets, carbon farming is not acknowledged in any current climate policy framework. In 2019, a pilot Swedish Carbon Sequestration (SCS) platform was established with the objective of attracting landholders, businesses, authorities, scientists and other key stakeholders to collaboratively design and enable a voluntary carbon farming scheme in Sweden. We will collaborate with the SCS platform to facilitate multi-stakeholder learning processes, and thereby providing a window of opportunity to examine the potential of knowledge co-production in supporting sustainability transitions.

For more information about this case study, please contact Neil Powell.

Bushfires in Sweden and Australia

The relationship in the public sphere between recent forest fires in Sweden (2014, 2017) and bushfires in Australia (2019-2020) has given new fuel to climate change and land use/forest debates. In these debates we can trace a sense of urgency, and action, advocacy of new land use practices (such as forest management models), ideas of fake news and climate change denial, calls for “traditional” knowledge, and the promotion of these as a response to “others” knowing “better”, and the power relations that support dominant ways of knowing. The urgency and panic as a result of the fires in Australia and Sweden opens a unique opportunity to study and understand the interaction of different climate change discourses in society with different land use sectors, and also how emergent voices, perspectives and land management practices potentially gain validation. This will have significant implications for the design and implementation of legitimate policy interventions. 

For more information about this case study, please contact Marcus Bussey.

Co-Creation Lab for sustainability transformation – a cross-cutting case

The Co-Creation Lab serves as a learning platform that hosts and experiments with a variety of exploratory methodologies (e.g. serious game system, storytelling, futures and anticipatory methods…) to reflect upon the issues brought up in the other case studies, i.e. carbon farming, bushfires. The aim of these methodologies is to support knowledge production processes that are systemic, equitable and anticipatory. The Lab will work with the case study researchers to design exploratory methodologies and facilitate co-creation sessions which address the research questions in the respective cases, and simultaneously examine the potential of exploratory methodologies to stimulate transformative knowledge co-production.

For more information about the Co-Creation Lab, please contact Thao Do.

Other projects

We also collaborate with two other projects:

Agricultural field with red houses and coniferous forest, photo.
We work with carbon farming in Sweden and Australia. Photo: Jonathan Petersson, Pixabay.
A beach by a sea, there is dark smoke all over the sky, photo.
Bushfires in Sweden and Australia are another of our research areas. Photo: Stina Powell.
Co-Creation Lab. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Co-Creation Lab. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Researchers involved

Portrait photo of a man, photo.Neil Powell

Professor of Sustainable Development at SRC – Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast and Researcher Leader at SWEDESD – Sustainability Learning and Research Center, Uppsala University

Email: neil.powell@swedesd.uu.se

Portrait photo of a woman, photo.Eva Friman

Director and Researcher at SWEDESD – Sustainability Learning and Research Center, Uppsala University

Email: eva.friman@swedesd.uu.se

Portrait photo of a man, photo.Marcus Bussey

Senior Researcher and Deputy Head at School of Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast

Email: mbussey@usc.edu.au

Portrait photo of a woman, photo.Thao Do

Research assistant at SWEDESD – Sustainability Learning and Research Center, Uppsala University

Email: thao.do@swedesd.uu.se

Portrait photo of a woman, photo.Stina Powell

Researcher at Division of Environmental Communication, Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Email: stina.powell@slu.se

Portrait photo of a man, photo.Kevin Bishop

Professor of environmental monitoring and assessment at the Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Email: kevin.bishop@slu.se

Portrait photo of a woman, photo.Sara Holmgren

Researcher at Division of Environmental Communication, Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Email: sara.holmgren@slu.se

 

 

Sanna Barrineau

PhD Student

Email: sanna.barrineau@slu.se

Max Whitman

PhD Student

Email: max.whitman@swedesd.uu.se

Page editor: maria.arpe@slu.se