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Unpacking social-ecological transformations: Conceptual, ethical and methodological insights


Shah, Sameer H; Rodina, Lucy; Burt, Jenn M; Gregr, Edward J; Chapman, Mollie; Williams, Steven; Wilson, Nicole J; McDowell, Graham (2018). Unpacking social-ecological transformations: Conceptual, ethical and methodological insights. The Anthropocene Review, 5(3):250-265.

Abstract

Social-ecological systems contribute to environmental change and, in turn, face its corresponding shocks and disturbances. As scholarship on resilience and social-ecological transformations grows, researchers from various disciplines continue to debate how major transitions and environmental change can be anticipated, studied or guided towards just and ethical outcomes. To this end, we apply an interdisciplinary perspective to describing key aspects of social-ecological transformations scholarship around three pressing questions: (1) What features or criteria distinguish transformations from other forms of change?; (2) What are the political, ethical, and normative concerns associated with transformations?; and (3) How can we better track, measure, and evaluate such transformations? Our insights, which emerged from a workshop with early-career interdisciplinary scholars, highlight questions of justice, equity and ethics in transformations research, and suggest that more precise indicators of change, a more explicit understanding of system boundaries, and a dual focus on process and outcomes will help advance our understanding of the social-ecological implications of transformations. We hope that articulating these challenges and recommendations in an interdisciplinary framing will help further the conversation on these critical topics and provide an accessible perspective of key considerations for multidisciplinary scholarship on social-ecological transformations.

Abstract

Social-ecological systems contribute to environmental change and, in turn, face its corresponding shocks and disturbances. As scholarship on resilience and social-ecological transformations grows, researchers from various disciplines continue to debate how major transitions and environmental change can be anticipated, studied or guided towards just and ethical outcomes. To this end, we apply an interdisciplinary perspective to describing key aspects of social-ecological transformations scholarship around three pressing questions: (1) What features or criteria distinguish transformations from other forms of change?; (2) What are the political, ethical, and normative concerns associated with transformations?; and (3) How can we better track, measure, and evaluate such transformations? Our insights, which emerged from a workshop with early-career interdisciplinary scholars, highlight questions of justice, equity and ethics in transformations research, and suggest that more precise indicators of change, a more explicit understanding of system boundaries, and a dual focus on process and outcomes will help advance our understanding of the social-ecological implications of transformations. We hope that articulating these challenges and recommendations in an interdisciplinary framing will help further the conversation on these critical topics and provide an accessible perspective of key considerations for multidisciplinary scholarship on social-ecological transformations.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ecology, Global and Planetary Change, Geology
Language:English
Date:1 December 2018
Deposited On:04 Jan 2019 14:08
Last Modified:05 Jan 2019 08:34
Publisher:Sage Publications Ltd.
ISSN:2053-020X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/2053019618817928

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