About the Conference

 Artist: Amanda McCavour (copyright)



Climate change is considered by many to be the greatest challenge to humanity. It is a “perfect storm” that will lead to unprecedented social and ecological impacts, unless urgent measures are taken to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to changes that are now considered inevitable. There is a growing recognition that traditional approaches and “business-as-usual” are insufficient to address the complex challenges of climate change. In fact, there have been many calls for new modes of thinking about multiple interacting processes, policies, and programs, and both scientific and policy discourses increasingly emphasize the need for deliberate transformation to address climate change.

Transformation to a low-carbon, well-adapted global society presents both opportunities and risks, and raises some important questions: What do we actually mean by transformation? What do we know from historical experience in a diverse field how to make it happen? Where are the gaps in our knowledge base to inform concrete strategies and actions for deliberate, ethical and sustainable transformation at the rate and scale that a global existential threat calls for? Can we innovate rapidly enough, and with sufficient intelligence, to transform systems along pathways towards global justice, gender equity, and long-term social and ecological resilience? Can we do this in a participative manner, without resorting to fear, force or folly?


Themes and Questions

This conference is envisioned as an agenda-setting gathering of the research community, and the first in a series on the theme of transformation. We anticipate a rapid growth in scholarship and practical concerns related to transformation in the coming years. In this context, we aim to draw together the best thinkers on the topic, to “gather the seeds” of what we know at this time, and build a joint knowledge, from which research programs, projects and assessments can build upon over time. It will serve as foundation and benchmark against which our growing knowledge on this topic can be measured. The conference will cover diverse aspects of transformation, including the following:

  • The Economics of Transformation
  • The Politics of Transformation
  • Technical and Infrastructural Transformation
  • Urban Transformation
  • Community-based Transformation
  • Transformative Learning and Leadership
  • Social-ecological Transformation
  • Transformation of Values, Norms and Worldviews
  • Transformation of Research and Policy
  • Transformative Communication
  • The Art of Transformation

The conference will generate discussions that cut across themes to look at the linkages between different scales and dimensions of transformation, addressing questions such as:

  • What types of transformation are considered necessary?
  • What factors facilitate transformation in theory and in practice, across different systems, sectors, and domains?
  • What types of capacities and competencies need to be developed to initiate and facilitate transformations that are both ethical and sustainable?
  • How does science itself need to change, and how can new approaches to global change research contribute to transformation of both theory and practice?


Published Nov. 19, 2012 7:09 PM - Last modified Sep. 15, 2021 9:54 AM