Publications and Research Outputs

Although the full list of research outputs is available from my extended CV, below are as many pdfs of these research outputs that can be made available. Alternatively, a detailed listing with some full text attachments is available on Research Gate.

The guiding logics and principles for designing emergent transdisciplinary research processes: learning experiences and reflections from a transdisciplinary urban case study in Enkanini informal settlement, South Africa

So pleased with this article – culmination of ten years of exploration with my colleague and friend John van Breda. It is a key contribution to the global discussion about transdisciplinary research that is dominated by European institutions, drawing on European experience. Ours draws on our African context, and in particular urban informality. We make a contribution here about how to do research in an African context that many African students yearn for, but do not hear about in their research methodology courses. For me it is the final internal synthesis of my own activist inclination and my responsibility as an academic to mount an epistemological and ontological defense of the kind of research I like doing. I’ve lived with an internal split between activism and research methodology for too long. That split is finally over.

Authors: John van Breda and Mark Swilling

Type of publication: Journal publication

Reference details: van Breda, J. & Swilling, M. 2018. The guiding logics and principles for designing emergent transdisciplinary research processes: learning experiences and reflections from a transdisciplinary urban case study in Enkanini informal settlement, South Africa

Keywords: Interdisciplinary research · Transdisciplinary research · Emergent design · Multi-track transdisciplinary processes · Boundary objects · Social transformation and innovation · Transformative knowledge co-production

Download: Van Breda Swilling (2018) Emergent TDR Design (002)

Abstract

Transdisciplinarity is not a new science per se, but a new methodology for doing science with society. A particular challenge in doing science with society is the engagement with non-academic actors to enable joint problem formulation, analysis and transformation. How this is achieved differs between contexts. The premise of this paper is that transdisciplinary research (TDR) methodologies designed for developed world contexts cannot merely be replicated and transferred to developing world contexts. Thus a new approach is needed for conducting TDR in contexts characterised by high levels of complexity, conflict and social fluidity. To that end, this paper introduces a new approach to TDR titled emergent transdisciplinary design research (ETDR). A core element of this approach is that the research process is designed as it unfolds, that is, it transforms as it emerges from and within the fluid context. The ETDR outlined in this paper emerged through a case study in the informal settlement (slum) of Enkanini in Stellenbosch, South Africa. This case study demonstrates the context from and within which the ETDR approach and identifies a set of guiding logics that can be used to guide ETDR approaches in other contexts. The study demonstrates that the new logics and guiding principles were not simply derived from the TDR literature, but rather emerged from constant interacting dynamics between theory and practice. Learning how to co-design the research process through co-producing transformative knowledge and then implementing strategic interventions to bring about incremental social change is key to theory development in ways that are informed by local contextual dynamics. There are, however, risks when undertaking such TDR processes such as under-valuing disciplinary knowledge, transferring risks onto a society, and suppressing ‘truth-to-power’.

The guiding logics and principles for designing emergent transdisciplinary research processes: learning experiences and reflections from a transdisciplinary urban case study in Enkanini informal settlement, South Africa

So pleased with this article on transdisciplinary research – culmination of a decade of work with John van Breda and many masters and PhD students, as well as community organisers in Enkanini. This article is our contribution to the new global discussion about transdisciplinary research which is dominated by European institutions. Ours emerges from our African context, especially urban informality which is so pervasive across the continent. This article provides a way of understanding research that many African students long for but rarely find in their respective courses on research methodology.

Authors: John van Breda and Mark Swilling

Type of publication: Journal publication

Reference details: van Breda, J. & Swilling, M. 2018. The guiding logics and principles for designing emergent
transdisciplinary research processes: learning experiences and reflections from a transdisciplinary urban case study in Enkanini
informal settlement, South Africa. Sustainability Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-018-0606-x.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary research · Transdisciplinary research · Emergent design · Multi-track transdisciplinary
processes · Boundary objects · Social transformation and innovation · Transformative knowledge co-production

Download: an Breda Swilling (2018) Emergent TDR Design (002)

Abstract

Transdisciplinarity is not a new science per se, but a new methodology for doing science with society. A particular
challenge in doing science with society is the engagement with non-academic actors to enable joint problem formulation,
analysis and transformation. How this is achieved differs between contexts. The premise of this paper is that transdisciplinary
research (TDR) methodologies designed for developed world contexts cannot merely be replicated and transferred
to developing world contexts. Thus a new approach is needed for conducting TDR in contexts characterised by high levels
of complexity, conflict and social fluidity. To that end, this paper introduces a new approach to TDR titled emergent
transdisciplinary design research (ETDR). A core element of this approach is that the research process is designed as it
unfolds, that is, it transforms as it emerges from and within the fluid context. The ETDR outlined in this paper emerged
through a case study in the informal settlement (slum) of Enkanini in Stellenbosch, South Africa. This case study
demonstrates the context from and within which the ETDR approach and identifies a set of guiding logics that can be used
to guide ETDR approaches in other contexts. The study demonstrates that the new logics and guiding principles were not
simply derived from the TDR literature, but rather emerged from constant interacting dynamics between theory and
practice. Learning how to co-design the research process through co-producing transformative knowledge and then
implementing strategic interventions to bring about incremental social change is key to theory development in ways that
are informed by local contextual dynamics. There are, however, risks when undertaking such TDR processes such as
under-valuing disciplinary knowledge, transferring risks onto a society, and suppressing ‘truth-to-power’.

How One Word Can Change the Game: Case Study of State Capture and the South African Social Security Agency

Our report on ‘state capture’ of the South African Social Security Agency that was released in August 2018. We did this work because we wanted to analyse state capture dynamics that were not tied to the Gupta network. I am starting to realize how significant this work is because as the Gupta networks get dismantled, new ‘capture networks’ are being assembled. The fight back by state capture forces within and outside the ANC reveals that these networks were not created by the Guptas, nor are they dependent on the Guptas going forward. The SASSA story is significant in this regard. However, ultimately, the SASSA story is a hopeful story: action by civil society and the robustness of the courts they mobilized saved SASSA and the monthly payments to 17 million South Africans.

FULL REPORT: SASSA State Capture _2018-07_ A4 report

Weight of Cities: Resource Requirements of Future Urbanization

WoC

Finally, after 4 years of intensive work by an international research team co-led by myself and Prof Maarten Hajer from Utrecht University, the final report was launched at the Resilient Cities conference in Bonn on 26 April 2018. Herewith all the links to the main report, summary, press release and fact sheet:

the_weight_of_cities_full_report_english

report_the_weight_of_cities_summry_web.compressed_230218

factsheet_the_weight_of_cities_web_010318

press_release_cities_2_report_v3_final

The Paris Agreement and A Just Transition in South Africa

This is my latest paper co-authored with colleagues from Melbourne. It provides a useful summation of the literature on South Africa’s contradictory commitments to decarbonisation, renewable energy and expanded coal-based energy production. The information on the declining coal industry is useful. With renewables now half the price of fossil fuel-based energy and ESKOM on the threshold of an institutional rupture and subsequent break-up, South Africa might be able to do now what it was unable to do in 1994, i.e transcend the mineral-energy-complex (MEC) which was the economic core of Apartheid. The post-1994 Government did little to dismantle the MEC, partly because of socio-technological lock-in. The remarkable growth of investments in renewables over the past five years suggests that there may be some truth in the CSIR claim that renewables could meet up to 90% of our energy requirements. For the paper, click on link below.

Published version_MSSI-Briefing-Paper_10_SA_2018 (1)

Governance of urban transitions: towards sustainable resource efficient urban infrastructures

ERL

Authors: Mark Swilling and Maarten Hajer

Type of publication: Journal publication

Reference details:Swilling, M. & Hajer, M. 2017. Governance of urban transitions: towards sustainable resource efficient urban infrastructures. Environmental Research Letters, 12. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7d3a

Keywords: cities, sustainable, governance, transition, urban

Download: Swilling_2017_Environ._Res._Lett._12_125007

Abstract
The transition to sustainable resource efficient cities calls for new governance arrangements. The
awareness that the doubling of the global urban population will result in unsustainable levels of
demand for natural resources requires changes in the existing socio-technical systems. Domestic
material consumption could go up from 40 billion tons in 2010, to 89 billion tons by 2050.
While there are a number of socio-technical alternatives that could result in significant
improvements in the resource efficiency of urban systems in developed and developing countries
(specifically bus-rapid transit, district energy systems and green buildings), we need to rethink
the urban governance arrangements to get to this alternative pathway. We note modes of urban
governance have changed over the past century as economic and urban development paradigms
have shifted at the national and global levels. This time round we identify cities as leading actors
in the transition to more sustainable modes of production and consumption as articulated in
the Sustainable Development Goals. This has resulted in a surge of urban experimentation across
all world regions, both North and South. Building on this empirically observable trend we
suggest this can also be seen as a building block of a new urban governance paradigm. An
‘entrepreneurial urban governance’ is proposed that envisages an active and goal-setting role for
the state, but in ways that allows broader coalitions of urban ‘agents of change’ to emerge. This
entrepreneurial urban governance fosters and promotes experimentation rather than suppressing
the myriad of such initiatives across the globe, and connects to global city networks for systemic
learning between cities. Experimentation needs to result in a contextually appropriate balance
between economic, social, technological and sustainable development.

 

Economic Policy-Making in a Developmental State: Review of the South African Government’s Poverty and Development Approaches, 1994-2004

Authors: Mark Swilling, John van Breda, Albert van Zyl & Firoz Khan

Type of publication: Report

Reference details: Swilling, M., van Breda, J., van Zyl, A. & Khan, F. 2007. Economic Policy-Making in a Developmental State: Review of the South African Government’s Poverty and Development Approaches, 1994-2004. Economic Policy and Poverty Alleviation Report Series, Report Number 3. Durban: Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Swilling, M. & van Breda, J. 2007. Institutionalising the Developmental State: the Case of the ‘Special Funds’. Economic Policy and Poverty Alleviation Report Series, Report Number 4. Durban: Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Keywords: developmental state, economic policy, fiscal policy, development funds

Download:DevStatePapers.pdf[1]

Building sustainable neighbourhoods in South Africa: learning from the Lynedoch case

Authors: Jacobs, G., Swilling, M., Nagan, W., Morgan, J. & Gills, B.

Type of publication: journal article

Reference details: Swilling, M. & Annecke, E. Building sustainable neighbourhoods in South Africa: learning from the Lynedoch case. Environment and Urbanization, 18(2):315-332.

Keywords: sustainable city, urban transition, ecological design, ecovillage, sustainable living

Download: E&U_18-2_Swilling_and_Annecke2