PhDs in Transitions at the IST2017

Dear colleagues,

This year’s International Sustainability Transitions Conference (IST2017) took place from June 18th-21st in Gothenburg, Sweden, organised by Chalmers University. Following our activities in recent years at the 6th IST in Brighton and our presence at the 50th Anniversary SPRU conference, the PhDs in Transitions network was ready to make a strong showing though PhD-led actitivities, combining old, well-received ideas such as the Newcomer Session with new activities. At the same time, the network engaged with early career researchers visiting the conference in order to disseminate the network ideas, and invite interested colleagues to help shape the future of our community.

In fact, it would be fair to say that PhD-led activities overtook the formal start of the conference – while the latter started with welcome drinks on the evening of June 18th, followed by the start of the official programme in the morning of June 19th, our main activities were already well underway. Drawing on the success of the newcomer session two years ago, this year’s organisers pulled all the stops in order to assemble an amazing panel consisting of Anna Bergek, Frank Geels, Jochen Markard, Karoline Rogge, Bernhard Truffer and Anna Wieczorek to try and provide insights into the often-confusing world of Transitions Studies. The panel discussion was kicked off with a short keynote by Jochen Markard,  who gave a brief run-down of the most important research sub-fields, open questions and tips for newcomers.

Following the newcomer session, all interested early career researchers were invited to participate in the second highlight of the evening – a PhDs in Transitions workshop aimed at discussing and setting out the future direction and strategie(s) of the network. Despite the increasingly late hour, and the allure of the drinks reception happening next door, a surprisingly high number of colleagues decided to visit the workshop and contribute their ideas and thoughts.

The PhDs workshop

The network remained active in a less formal (and some would say, more efficient) way over the following three conference days, furthering the conclusions from the workshop in a series of smaller group meetings, and engaging in tireless lobbying in order to find and motivate potential organisers for the 2018 PhDs in Transitions Conference. At the same time, members presented their individual work and engaged in discussions and debates at multiple levels, some of which brought highly interesting results in the following days. At a more formal level, we were also invited to present our recent activities and current status to the STRN Steering Committee, with two of our members taking the role of representatives. A second highlight was the opportunity to briefly present the network at a fomal reception at the Gothenburg Museum of World Culture, which we used to provide a brief summary of our roots and past activities, and announcing our future work and activities.

The last day of the conference concluded a very active, quite successful involvement by the PhDs network by not one, but two quite spectacular news: not only have we managed to secure support and an organiser for the 3rd PhDs in Transitions Conference in the form of Utrecht University (a big thank you to everyone involved in this process), but we were also notified by the STRN Steering Committee about their decision to provide us with a seat on the committee, allowing continuous representation and collaboration with some of the leading minds in the Transitions community and a increased ability to feed in our thoughts regarding the future of Transitions. As these two news are a bit too important to be condensed in half a paragraph, more information will follow in future posts!

Special thanks to Johnn, Kristina and Julius for their tireless efforts on-site, and to all old and new members for their time, motivation and energy spent in making this happen!

Photographs: Julius and Anton

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