We seek to understand societal decision making in face of normative and scientific uncertainty in transition processes in four major areas of change and challenge.
Low Carbon Society
Action on climate action is shaped by contradictory visions, needs and narratives of different social groups. Economy-wide low carbon transitions will create both winners and losers – impacting livelihoods, jobs and communities in the process. Greening systems may not make them any fairer, inclusive or just. We will identify principles and policies to affect low-carbon and climate resilient transitions in India with due attention to social justice. Policymaking will need to address the politics on ground, engage with plural perspectives, and contest institutionally practiced and dominant notions of building a green society.
Urban development across India is driven by technocratic visions of “smart” and “resilient” cities. Planning processes that prioritise investments in technology and certain types of urban infrastructure enhance a city’s attractiveness to investments and flows of global capital. However, these strategies neglect the needs of most residents, especially the most vulnerable and urban poor. India’s Future Cities require participatory processes and reflexive approaches to produce alternative urban futures and challenge the hegemonic and generic notions of contemporary cityness.
It has become increasingly evident how societies culturally, economically, and politically are grounded in, socially organized by, and reshaped with the increasing centrality and continued diffusion of digital technologies. Dominant imaginaries and discourses driving the diffusion of digital technologies often present digitalization in unproblematic terms. We understand digitalization as a continuous socio-technical process of change, which is conflictual and reflexive. Our work explores its implications for sustainability and livelihoods, and the choice of digital solutions and governance models that could lead to greater societal benefits.
Future of Food
Food systems are at the center of global environmental, social, and economic challenges such as resource scarcity, ecosystem degradation, and climate change. Food is a major part of all cultures and is strongly associated with many social interactions and remains intimately linked to identity. The production of food is the primary cause of biodiversity loss globally – driven by the conversion of land for agriculture and the intensification of agriculture reducing the quality and quantity of available wildlife habitats. Transition away from food production systems that deplete natural resources, pollute the environment and marginalize small farmers has never been more urgent.
We combine systematic foresight, Science and Technology Studies (STS), and ethnographic research to discover iterative solutions to real-world problems. We believe that good social science research can help change the world.