Catch up on the first Pathways Forum – Pathways to Sustainability: nice words, but what do they mean?


The Science-based Pathways for Sustainability Initiative aims to be an inclusive and integrative response to the pressing need to produce knowledge and understanding in systemic interactions, competing development agendas, and transformations in concrete contexts. Through its bi-monthly Pathways Forum webinar series, the Pathways Initiative intends to develop and support agenda-setting, synthesis and capacity building around pathways for sustainability.

The first Pathways Forum took place on September 23, 2021, and saw more than 70 participants joining from Africa, Latin and North America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania for the inaugural session entitled “Pathways for sustainability: nice words, but what do they mean?”.

The Forum, which served as an opportunity to explore key dimensions of sustainability research, opened with three presentations from speakers Oonsie Biggs (Stellenbosch University), Adrian Ely (University of Sussex) and Flurina Schneider (Institute for Social-Ecological Research). Through their respective presentations, each speaker offered a view on how pathways approaches can contribute to bridging the gap between global challenges and local initiatives, on how engaging in collaborative research in multicultural and multidisciplinary contexts, and on the way the normative underpinnings of sustainability research influence the way research is conducted and how it is valued.

Following the presentations, the participants engaged in breakout discussions with the speakers. Some of the topics discussed included reflections on the ability and necessity for local sustainable initiatives to contribute to larger scale transformations, on academia’s capacity to adapt to and support transdisciplinary research practices, and on the importance for researchers to be reflexive regarding the way their own value systems influence their research.

The level of engagement and enthusiasm displayed by the participants during this first event confirmed the value of the Pathways Forum as space for researchers to have critical yet constructive conversations on the role and framing of sustainability science.

Watch the recording of the first Pathways Forum below or by clicking here.

The next Pathways Forum, scheduled for the end of November, will be a capacity building event on how to integrate different sources and types of knowledge in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research. The specific date and additional details will be announced in the next Pathways Newsletter.

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