ProjectsA selection of recent and current projects
I participate in a range of funded and unfunded research projects, contracted research and occasionally consulting work. This is normally done via SI Projects and the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition.
Long-term Research Projects and Initiatives
Just Transitions in a Complex World: Reflections of an Enraged Incrementalist
This is a book project that I hope to complete by end of 2018. It builds on my 2012 book Just Transitions: Explorations of Sustainability in an Unfair World, but goes way beyond where I was in 2012. The book has 15 chapters, and the overall focus is on the dynamics of change that could result in a just transition to a world that is more equitable and ecological sustainable. My sabbatical at Yale University in 2018 (March – October) was devoted to writing up of this book.
International Resource Panel:
1. City-Level Decoupling. Role: Project Leader. Lead institution: SI Projects. Output: Report entitled City-Level Decoupling: Urban Resource Flows and the Governance of Infrastructure Transitions published in 2013. Time frame: 2011-2013.
2. Weight of Cities: Resource Requirements of Future Urbanization. Role: Project Leader and co-lead author. Lead institution: SI Projects. SI Team: Blake Robinson and Josephine Musango. Partners: CSIRO, Australia; Prof Sangwon Suh, University of California, Santa Barbara; Prof Anu Ramaswami, University of Minnesota; Prof John Fernandez, MIT; and Prof Maarten Hajer, Centre for Urban Futures, Utrecht University. Output: Report. Time frame: 2014-2018. The Report was launched in April 2018 at the Resilient Cities conference in Bonn, and the ICLEI World Congress in Montreal in June 2018.
3. Decoupling Economic Growth and Resource Use, 2010-2011.
Access the IRP website HERE.
Overall aim: my personal aim is to integrate the focus of the work of the IRP on material flows into a wider conception of global transition to more sustainable modes of production and consumption.
National Research Foundation: Community Engagement using transdisciplinary case research methods. Five years of funding for an intensive programme of transdisciplinary research focussed on the informal settlement of Enkanini, and the wider Stellenbosch system within the context of the Rector-Mayor Forum. Role: project leader. Lead institution: TsamaHub. Output: various Mphil and PhD theses, plus a book chapter, journal article and contributions to various papers and many talks on transdisciplinary research. Time frame: 2011-2015.
See the integrated paper on this work entitled Rethinking Incremental Urbanism: co-production of incremental informal settlement upgrading strategies
Policy Brief on the iShack prepared for DBSA: Policy-Brief-6_Original-Series_Final.compressed
Click HERE to download a short video about the Enkanini work and how the transdisciplinary research approach was applied in this context.
For a documentary about the iShack social enterprise through the eyes of one of the ‘iShack agents’ (employee of the social enterprise) who lives in Enkanini made by the renowned programme BEING, click HERE.
For a selection of other links to reports and videos on this work see:
Overall aim: to use our own local context to explore and adapt the global trend towards transdisciplinary case research methodologies and methods.
African Climate Change Adaptation Initiative: funded by the Open Society Foundation, this involves a partnership between six African Universities initially focussed on transdisciplinary approaches to ‘climate change adaptation’, and then on ‘food security in the face of climate change’. Key role of the TsamaHub has been to deliver a series of Summer and Winter Schools to build the capacity of the partner Universities to conduct transdisciplinary case study research. Role: project initiator, supported by John van Breda and Luke Metelerkamp as project coordinators. Lead institution: TsamaHub. Time frame: 2011-2017.
Click HERE for a access to the Food Revolution website and four incredible videos based on research conducted by the postgraduate students who were trained in transdisciplinary case research methodologies and methods.
Overall aim: to build a network of African researchers who share an ability to apply transdisciplinary case research methodologies and methods to address climate change and food system challenges.
Training in Resource Efficiency and Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (TreccAfrica): funded by the African Union, this involves a partnership of six African Universities – funding is for Masters and Doctoral bursaries for participation in programmes delivered by the partner Universities, plus funds for mobility exchanges for students and staff. Two rounds of 2.5 million Euros each, with Stellenbosch University as the overall project coordinator. Lead institution: TsamaHub (now called the CST). Time frame: 2012-2016.
Overall aim: to build an institutionalised partnership of African Universities who are committed to the goal of delivering excellent high quality postgraduate research programmes for Africans on African soil.
World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS): New Economic Theory project – this involves collaboration between about 30 heterodox economists from various parts of the world committed to building an alternative economic theory. Role: Co-Director of the project with Garry Jacobs, CEO of WAAS. Lead institution: WAAS, with CST as a partner along with many other institutional partners. Output: events and publications plus a MOOC. Time frame: 2015 – ongoing.
Overall aim: a new economic theory that can displace neo-liberal economics at the conceptual and policy levels.
Stellenbosch Rector-Mayor Forum: this involves a wide range of activities undertaken under the auspices of the Rector-Mayor Forum – a forum that coordinates joint initiatives between Stellenbosch University and Stellenbosch Municipality via several sub-committees. I have been most active in the Integrated Planning Committee and the Infrastructure Innovation Committee, that has now been merged into a single sub-committee (as of August 2015). Team: Blake Robinson, SI Projects. Lead institution: TsamaHub, and from end 2015 CST. Outputs: reports – most significant being the draft Spatial Development Framework (SDF). Time frame: 2005 – 2016.
Overall aim: application of transdisciplinary case research methodologies and methods to address the challenges facing Stellenbosch, with special reference to infrastructure, land reform and incremental upgrading of informal settlements.
Holcim Foundation: urban rematerialization. This is a series of Round Table discussions that involve a range of academics, development practitioners and architects who share an interest in urban material flows, sustainability and design. Although there is no specific project grant with a clear aim, the discussions have been exploratory with a solutions orientation. Role: participant. Time frame: 2014 – 2016.
Overall aim: to develop a new way of conceptualising sustainable urban systems and how they can be transformed over time.
Fixed-term Research Projects and Initiatives
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA): Green Industrialization and Cities in Africa. Role: Project leader. Lead Institution: SI Projects. Output: position paper. Time frame: October-December 2015.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): Green Economy Toolkit for Sub-National Governments in Africa. Role: Project leader. Lead institution: SI Projects. Output: Report. Time frame: 2014-2016.
Dutch Research Institute for Transition: Change-makers and Social Innovation. Role: lead researcher. Lead institution: SI Projects. Output: paper published in Ecology and Society. Time frame: 2014-2016.
Dutch Research Institute for Transition: Politics of Sustainability Transitions. Role: lead researcher. Research partners: Josephine Musango and Jeremy Wakeford. Output: paper published in Journal for Environmental Policy and Planning. Time frame: 2014-2016.
International Social Science Council: Sustainable Urbanization. Role: thought leader, facilitator of three international seminars in Quito, Taipei and Durban (but could not attend Taipei session). Outputs: edited book entitled Untamed Urbanism plus journal articles (tbc). Time frame: 2013-2015. Extended into 2016 to establish a website that will bring together the participants in the all three workshops into what is called the Trans-Urban Knowledge Network (TUKN).
National Research Foundation: Global Change. Three year research project on ‘greending the South African developmental state’. Role: project leader. Lead institution: TsamaHub. Output: various papers, Mphil and PhD theses, but mainly a co-edited 25 chapter book entitled Greening the South African Economy (to be published by Juta, Cape Town, in 2016). Time frame: 2012-2014. Extended for another two years (2016-2017) to conduct in-depth transdisciplinary research into the developmental impact of the renewable energy power plants on South Africa’s small towns where these plants are being constructed.
International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR): Special Advisor to the Curator, Maarten Hajer, and co-curator with Edgar Pieterse and Tau Tavenga of the African Urbanization component of this exhibition (which takes place once every two years with funding from the Dutch Government). Lead institution: SI Projects and African Centre for Cities. Time frame: 2015-2016.
I Climate Club: in partnership with German Churches, Wupperthal Institute in Germany and Teri in India, the aim of this project is to figure out a way to establish a bottom-up climate fund that presents an alternative to the failed multi-lateral initiatives at global level. This would provide companies and individuals an opportunity to save or invest their money in funds that would, in turn, invest their funds in renewable energy projects that generate a financial return. Role: project leader. Team: Paul Hendler, Morgan Pillay and Vanessa von der Heyde. Leading institution: SI Projects. Time frame: 2015-2016. Extended indefinitely to create a 1 Climate Club that will make it possible for Germany’s ethical banks to mobilize savings for investments in renewable energy in Germany, as well as in India and South Africa.