Sustainability Transitions – New Approaches
In this talk Fjalar will give a brief overview of the history and approaches in the research field of sustainability transitions. In particular, the Multi-Pattern Approach (MPA) will be discussed. The MPA is a theoretical framework that enables systematic case analysis, flexible enough for narrative case studies, rigorous enough to be a basis for modelling approaches. After that, he will discuss some of the recent transition dynamics in North-Western Europe. These dynamics seem to point at a Great Transition involving a transformation of value sets, in which the ongoing sectoral transitions (e.g. energy, health care) are enveloped. The present theoretical frameworks are not well equipped to explain these dynamics, notably because of a lack of conceptualisation of agency. A new framework – embedding, rather than discarding previous frames – was recently proposed by de Haan & Rotmans to overcome some of these issues. This framework, transitions field theory, will be introduced.
Fjalar de Haan is a transitionist. He develops theory and other tools for understanding sustainability transitions and societal transformations. Modelling is one of his favourite tools and he would say that modelling helps to accelerate the interactions between theory and empirical work towards better understanding. Fjalar has an MSc in theoretical physics (Institute Lorentz, Leiden University, under supervision of Prof Wim van Saarloos) and a PhD in transitions studies (DRIFT, Erasmus University Rotterdam, under supervision of Prof Jan Rotmans), with a thesis entitled ‘Towards Transition Theory’. Fjalar developed the Multi-Pattern Approach which enables systematic case analysis by breaking down complex transition pathways into sequences of patterns and led the development of the Societal Needs Framework, describing and explaining how our service-provision systems are intimately related with the societal needs they meet. Fjalar has been exploring the fringe of transitions theory and modelling in a variety of sectoral contexts including health care, urban water management and energy, as part of international, interdisciplinary teams (e.g. EU-FP7 PREPARED: Enabling Change), project-based with industry (e.g. Australian Research Council Linkage Project with Melbourne Water) and in curiosity-driven solo projects. Fjalar is currently based at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at The University of Melbourne.