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Website for upcoming conference

Thank you

Dear conference participants!

It was a real pleasure to host you in Stockholm for Transformations2015 - people and planet in the Anthropocene. We had three great days filled with inspiring conversations, interesting debates, and new insights. We are currently working on synthezising some of the conference outcomes, especially from the MashUps sessions, and this will be posted in blog form on the webpage for you to comment on. We see this as one way to keep the discussions going until the next Transformations conference, which will be held at the University of Dundee, Scotland, in 2017.

Thank you again for all your contributions!

Per and Elin photos

Elin Enfors Kautsky and Per Olsson,
Convenors, Stockholm Resilience Center


Transformations2015, held in Stockholm Oct5-7 2015, focused on transformations towards sustainability: the challenge of solving problems in the Anthropocene and creating conditions for good lives for people, today and in the future, while strengthening Earth's life support system.

The aim of the conference was to build a better understanding of large-scale systemic changes and fundamental redirections in people-planet relationships that can have an impact at scales that match the challenges of the Anthropocene, in both developed and developing country contexts.

Transformations2015 gathered people from various disciplines around the world to share cutting-edge research on transformations to sustainability, and through a Science MashUp explore the research frontiers in this developing field.

Participants were invited to critically examine whether current technological and social innovations and sustainability initiatives contribute to the large-scale transformations that humanity needs, or whether they reinforce current unsustainable pathways.

The conference was organized into four sub-themes:

  • Patterns of transformations
    Patterns of transformations focused on what transformative change means in the Anthropocene. Questions to be considered include: what are the necessary changes in interactions between key variables for sustainable development, including on the one hand personal, cultural, political and institutional factors and on the other hand ecological ones? How do transformation processes unfold in different types of systems?
  • Scaling up for transformative impact
    Scaling up for transformative impact focused on factors for fundamentally changing human-environmental interactions and feedbacks. Understanding scaling – that is, how and under which conditions new ideas, experiments and initiatives can have large-scale, systemic impacts - is key in this regard. The conference will explore how innovations that seems promising on a local or micro scale can continue to benefit both people and the planet as they are scaled up.
  • The role of change agents in sustainability transformations
    The role of change agents in sustainability transformations focused on the role of individual agency and networks in driving transformative processes. Discussions will consider questions surrounding the strategies and skills that change makers use, the actors that operate in the space to match the solutions to the scale of the problems, opportunity contexts, and the networked innovation process.
  • New and emerging approaches for studying sustainability transformations
    New and emerging approaches for studying sustainability transformations involved discussions about new types of research methods and approaches that will be needed to improve understanding about the sub-themes above, how they differ from current modes of research, and can more effectively advance understanding about transformation and facilitate change.

The Conference has three main discussion formats

Speed talks

Speed talks are short presentations, intended to spur interest and generate discussion and interactions among the presenters and session participants, allowing for new meetings and networking. Each speed talk session is 45 minutes and has 4-5 presentations of 4 minutes each, these are short talks where presenters pitch an idea or highlight the most important findings of their studies. When the presentations are done, each presenter will station themselves at separate tables in the meeting room and interact with people from the audience who are interested in learning more about their work, in a conversation that will last for approximately 20 minutes. The session will be facilitated to ensure time is kept. Pkease note that all power point presentations must be uploaded on a conference computer at the latest 60 minutes before the session.


In music terms, a MashUp is used to describe the process of creating new music by combining two or more pre-recorded songs, often from different genres. The conference will apply this concept to generate new conversations, perspectives and insights among researchers from diverse disciplines and backgrounds, around the four conference sub-themes . The MashUp sessions are 1h long and all consist of 3 presenters who will start by giving a 7-8 minutes presentation of their respective work, which will be followed by a facilitated discussion focusing on the particular topic of that MashUp. Please not that all power point presentations must be uploaded on a conference computer at the latest 60 minutes before the session.

Deep Conversations

Deep Conversation sessions are 1 hour and 15 min and provide an opportunity to do an in-depth exploration of a certain topic, identified as particularly important for the conference. The format will vary a bit between different conversations, but in general a set of 3-6 speakers will quickly pitch the main ideas of their respective work. The facilitator will then encourage a conversation among the participants, which also includes the audience, around a set of pre-defined questions that relate to the converstaion topic. Please not that all power point presentations must be uploaded on a conference computer at the latest 60 minutes before the session.


The conference will be preceded by a set of Transformation Labs (TLabs) that will focus on a few selected problem domains, such as fisheries, algorithms, and urban development. The insights and experiences from these TLabs will be fed back into the conference and help set the scene for the scientific discussions.

Exploring the interface between social, technological and ecological systems the TLabs intend to connect people who do not normally work together and help blur the boundaries between scientific research and other fields and sectors. TLabs will enable invited change-makers, such as social entrepreneurs, academics, design thinkers, policy makers, business representatives, artists and others, to co-design initiatives to urgent sustainability challenges.

The TLabs build on the idea of Change Labs, which are spaces for joint experimentation, with a carefully designed and facilitated process, to create a series of prototype solutions to complex problems. These prototypes could be new business models, services, or governance forms that fundamentally change human-environmental interactions and contribute to large-scale changes for a better future. We hope that these prototypes can be tested and evaluated in the real world, then further refined and tested again.

Keynote Speakers

Frances Westley joined the University of Waterloo as the JW McConnell Chair in Social Innovation in July 2007. In this capacity she is one of the principle leads in a Canada wide initiative in social innovation, SiG (Social Innovation Generation). At University of Waterloo she leads a research team dedicated to understanding social innovation. Her most recent book, Getting to Maybe (Random House, 2006) focuses the dynamics of social innovation, and institutional entrepreneurship in complex adaptive systems.

Victor Galaz is an Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer in political science at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Sweden). Among his publications in English are articles in the journals Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Science, the Lancet, Ecological Economics, Public Administration, Nature Climate Change, International Environmental Agreements, Environmental Politics, and Governance. His work has been featured in international media such as Wired, The Guardian, New Scientist and Nature.

Marcella D’Souza is the Executive Director of WOTR. A physician by education she opted for Community Health. Marcella is an alumnus of the Government Medical College, Nagpur and a Takemi Fellow of the Harvard School of Public Health. Years of working in semi-arid regions and witnessing the varying and unpredictable weather patterns and its impact on rural livelihoods and well-being in these areas triggered WOTR’s Climate Change Adaptation project for developing tested methodologies for large-scale application and applied research in 2009 that looks at socio-ecological systems and interconnectedness to find answers.

Elin Enfors Kautsky is a reasercher and theme leader for the Landscapes theme at Stockholm Resilience Center. Her main academic interests concerns the social-ecological dynamics of smallholder farming systems, with a special focus on pathways to transformative change and poverty alleviation in these systems. After a postdoc at CIRAD in France, she has also worked with the Water, Land and Ecosystems program of the CGIAR. Elin has published papers in e.g. Global Environmental Change, Ecology and Society, Agricultural Water Management, and has done extensive inter-disciplinary field work in sub-Saharan Africa.

David Christian David Christian is Professor of History at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and Director of Macquarie University's Big History Institute. Dr. Christian is by training a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, but since the 1980s he has become interested in World History on very large scales. In 1989, he began teaching courses on ’Big History’, surveying the past on the largest possible scales, including those of biology and astronomy; and in 2004, he published "Maps of Time", a history of the Universe. He is a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities, and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Global History and the Cambridge History of the World.

J. Stephen Lansing directs the Complexity Institute at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He is also an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute and an emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona. Before moving to Arizona in 1998, Lansing held joint appointments at the University of Michigan in the School of Natural Resources & Environment and the Department of Anthropology, and earlier chaired the anthropology department of the University of Southern California. He is President-elect of the Anthropology and Environment Society of the American Anthropological Association. His recent research has to do with the long-term dynamics of coupled social-ecological systems.

Johan Rockström is a professor in Environmental Science at Stockholm University, and the Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. He is an internationally recognized scientist on global sustainability issues, where he, e.g., led the recent development of the new Planetary Boundaries framework for human development in the current era of rapid global change. He has more than 100 research publications in fields ranging from applied land and water management to global sustainability.

Per Olsson leads the Stockholm Resilience Centres initiative on Innovation and Transformation in Social-Ecological Systems. His current research is in agency, social-ecological innovations, transformations to sustainability and how to reverse current trends of crossing critical thresholds and tipping points in the Earth system. Per has co-authored a number of book chapters including a chapter for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and articles in scientific journals including Science, PNAS, TREE, Ambio, Global Environmental Change, Ecology and Society, and the Annual Review of the Environment and Resources.

Karen O’Brien is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo, Norway. Her research has focused on climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation including how climate change interacts with globalization processes and the implications for human security. She has participated in the IPCC Fourth and Fifth Assessments, as well as the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). She has written and co-edited numerous books about global environmental change.

Heide Hackmann recently joined the International Council for Science (ICSU) as Executive Director. Before that she was the Executive Director of the International Social Science Council (ISSC). Heide read for a M.Phil in contemporary social theory at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, and holds a PhD in science and technology studies from the University of Twente in the Netherlands. She has worked as a science policy maker, researcher and consultant in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Carl Folke is Science Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Director of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Carl has extensive experience in transdisciplinary collaboration between natural and social scientists, and has worked with ecosystem dynamics and services as well as the social and economic dimension of ecosystem management and proactive measures to manage resilience. He is elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences since 2002 and serves on its Environmental Research Committee.

Andy Stirling is co-director of the STEPS Centre at the University of Sussex, working on questions over power and democracy in the politics of knowledge and innovation. He’s served on many policy advisory bodies, focusing on issues of technological risk, scientific uncertainty, regulatory precaution and public participation. Andy is a member of editorial boards for several academic journals and of the Research Committee of the ESRC.

Laura Pereira is currently a post-doc at the University of Cape Town under the Bioeconomy chair, where she is working on orphan crop innovation for transformation in the food system. In particular she is interested in looking at the interface between traditional knowledge systems and more formal systems of innovation with regards to food, nutrition and agriculture. Her other academic interests lie in visioning more positive futures in the age of the Anthropocene and the process of social-ecological innovation in developing country contexts.

Ioan Fazey is the chair of Social Dimensions of Environmental Change and Director of the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience at the University of Dundee, Scotland. Ioan is an interdisciplinary researcher, using a variety of science and social science methods, collaborating with economists, ecologists, educationalists, quantitative modellers, social scientists, local communities and government and non-government organisations. His focus is on understanding how change can be facilitated and on how learning can be accelerated for achieving resilience and real world practical outcomes.

Steve Waddell, principal of NetworkingAction, focuses on multi-stakeholder large systems change to address critical issues. His does this with as a researcher, consultant, educator, and through personal leadership with a range of clients and partners globally.. He has a PhD in sociology and an MBA. He is author of several articles and other publications, including the books Societal Learning and Change: Innovation with Multi-Stakeholder Strategies and Global Action Networks: Creating Our Future Together. Steve is a Canadian-American living in Boston.

Derk Loorbach is the director of the Dutch Research Institute of Transitions (DRIFT) and Professor of Socio-economic Transitions at the Faculty of Social Science, at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. He is a founder of the transition management approach as a new form of governance for sustainable development. Derk Loorbach has over one hundred publications in this area and has been involved as an action researcher in numerous transition processes with government, business, civil society and science.

Conference Programme

All abstracts can be found in the downloadable programme.



If you have questions regarding the conference, please contact Per Olsson.