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Collecting workshop dialogues
Transforming knowledge systems for life on Earth: Visions of future systems and how to get there

What happens when an entire conference gets together to produce knowledge? In this major publication, 184 conference attendees made use of the collective knowledge of 340 delegates at the 2017 Transformations to Sustainability conference in Scotland. Together, with a novel futures-oriented and participatory approach, they addressed two questions:

(A) what might future envisioned knowledge systems need to look like?

(B) how might we get there?

Formalised knowledge systems, including universities and research institutes, are important for contemporary societies. They are, however, also arguably failing humanity when their impact is measured against the level of progress being made in stimulating the societal changes needed to address challenges like climate change. 

The findings from this novel deliberative process suggest that envisioned future systems will need to be much more collaborative, open, diverse, egalitarian, and able to work with values and systemic issues, and need to go beyond producing knowledge about our world to generating wisdom about how to act within it.

To answer the second question, they conclude that to get to envisioned systems we will need to rapidly scale methodological innovations, connect innovators, creatively accelerate learning about working with intractable challenges, create new funding schemes, create a global knowledge commons, and challenge deeply held assumptions.

To genuinely be a creative force in supporting longevity of human and non-human life on our planet, the shift in knowledge systems will probably need to be at the scale of the enlightenment and speed of the scientific and technological revolution accompanying the second World War. This will require bold and strategic action from governments, scientists, civic society and sustained transformational intent.

Figure 2 below summarizes the key domains of policy and action that are needed to help this shift emerge (click to open in new window).



Read the full paper here.

Fazey, et al. "Transforming knowledge systems for life on Earth: Visions of future systems and how to get there." Energy Research & Social Science 70 (2020): 101724.


Edited by KLI Communications Officer Lynn Chiu