Postdoctoral Fellow on Sustainable Tranformations

The Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), Sweden, seeks an outstanding interdisciplinary researcher to lead research on transformations to in social-ecological systems in the Global South.

Achieving a sustainable world requires transformative systemic shifts in deeply held values, beliefs, rules & regulations, practices, and infrastructures.  There are many initiatives that aim to contribute to such transformations, but there is a lack of systematic comparison of these projects. Similarly, while many research efforts seek to understand the transformative impact of new initiatives, this research is dispersed across multiple research programmes including social innovation, earth system governance, social movement, and transitions management.  Much of the existing theory has been developed in the context of developed countries. This postdoc will build on previous research at the Stockholm Resilience Centre on social-ecological innovations and transformations. Transformations theory will be consolidated and refined for a developing country contexts, and a framework will be designed for systematically analysing the potential of sustainability initiatives to create transformative change.

This project is particularly interested in analyzing the potential for transformative social-ecological change as part of human development. Understanding the transformative potential of sustianability initiatives will help people envision how such intitiatives can combine to create new, positive futures for the Earth and humanity, as well as how social-ecological transformations can be catalyzed by directing resources towards transformative seeds. The ‘Seeds of a Good Anthropocene’ project ( has developed a pilot database of about 500 existing initiatives and experiments that aim to address sustainability challenges. It aims to compare the social-ecological attributes, impacts and goals of these seeds. It will develop methods to produce diverse and plausible visions of futures that are socially and ecologically desirable, just, and sustainable, and identify initiatives that could be better supported to contribute to such futures.

This project will also provide insights on the institutional and organizational factors that stimulate the kinds of innovation that solve rather than augment environmental challenges. Future application of the transformative potential framework can be to probe and analyze case databases of organizations that are major players in the field, such as the World Bank, Skoll Foundation, Sustainable Goals Network, and Ashoka.

Main responsibilities
The postdoc will develop a framework for identifying and analyzing examples of potential transformative change, e.g. reconfiguring food production to meet multiple objectives, and distinguish these transformative changes from incremental improvements, e.g., reducing pollution or increasing the environmental efficiency of agricultural production, that are the focus of much of today’s sustainability dialogue.  This framework will be applied to the seeds in the database to identify those that have the potential for transformative social-ecological change.

Specific tasks:

  • Contribute to the development and analysis of a database of ‘seeds’ which represent existing examples of cases with potential for social-ecological transformation
  • Help apply theory and methods of social-ecological transformation to develop a framework to assess the transformative potential of these ‘seeds’
  • Link this research to other SRC research and synthesis, particularly under the GRAID programme.

You will be part of the GRAID team and work closely with other staff at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. The work includes some travel to SRC, GRAID and GRP partner events of relevance to the position and its deliverables. Approximately 80% of your time would be spent on the case study analysis and 20% on integrating their research with the broader GRAID research effort.

Qualification requirements
Researchers are appointed primarily for purposes of research and must hold a Swedish doctoral degree or an equivalent degree from another country.

Assessment criteria
The degree should have been completed no more than three years before the deadline for applications. An older degree may be acceptable under special circumstances, which may involve sick leave, parental leave, clinical attachment, elected positions in trade unions, or similar.

In the appointment process, special attention will be given to:

  • Broad background in Sustainability Science
  • Experience and awareness of development issues
  • Knowledge of social-ecological resilience & transformation
  • Experience in comparative case analysis
  • Ability to take initiative and work independently and as part of a team
  • Record of publications in scientific journals
  • Ability to design, manage, and help lead workshops

Terms of employment
The position involves full-time employment for a maximum of two years, with the possibility of extension under special circumstances. Start date as per agreement.

Application deadline: 12th of August 2016

Please see also:

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