What is the role of researchers in sustainability transitions? DRIFT colleague and Transition Academy teacher Julia Wittmayer reached a top 3 and honorable mention in the Best Paper Award, by the renowned paper Sustainability Science.
Her article “Action, research and participation: roles of researchers in sustainability transitions” was praised by the committee for filling a hole in literature on process oriented research approach in sustainability science.
The Best Paper Award 2014 states that “The authors establish an in-depth understanding of the activities and roles of researchers […] by specifying ideal-type roles that researchers take when dealing with key issues in creating and maintaining space for societal learning – a core activity in process-oriented approaches.”
The Awards committee adds that ‘‘The question being addressed – the proper role of a sustainability scientist, when activism, scientific process and rationality, and pragmatic politics often collide – is critical, and not adequately considered in many cases. Publishing this paper was an excellent decision for that reason, and I think recognizing it […] is entirely appropriate.’’ The roles discussed by Wittmayer are change agent, knowledge broker, reflective scientist, self-reflexive scientist, and process facilitator. To better understand these ideal-type roles, they are used as a heuristic to explore a case of transition management in Rotterdam.