Transforming knowledge systems for life on Earth: visions of future systems and how to get there

Ioan Fazey, Niko Schäpke, Guido Caniglia, Anthony Hodgson, Ian Kendrick, Christopher Lyon, Glenn Page, James Patterson, Chris Riedy, Tim Strasser, Stephan Verveen, David Adams, Bruce Goldstein, Matthias Klaes, Graham Leicester, Alison Linyard, Adrienne McCurdy, Paul Ryan, Bill Sharpe, Giorgia SilvestriAli Yansyah Abdurrahim, David Abson, Olufemi Samson Adetunji, Paulina Aldunce, Carlos Alvarez-Pereira, Jennifer Marie Amparo, Helene Amundsen, Lakin Anderson, Lotta Andersson, Michael Asquith, Karoline Augenstein, Jack Barrie, David Bent, Julia Bentz, Arvid Bergsten, Carol Berzonsky, Olivia Bina, Kirsty Blackstock, Joanna Boehnert, Hilary Bradbury, Christine Brand, Jessica Böhme (born Sangmeister), Marianne Mille Bøjer, Esther Carmen, Lakshmi Charli-Joseph, Sarah Choudhury, Supot Chunhachoti-ananta, Jessica Cockburn, John Colvin, Irena L.C. Connon, Rosalind Cornforth, Robin S. Cox, Nicholas Cradock-Henry, Laura Cramer, Almendra Cremaschi, Halvor Dannevig, Catherine T. Day, Cathel de Lima Hutchison, Anke de Vrieze, Vikas Desai, Jonathan Dolley, Dominic Duckett, Rachael Amy Durrant, Markus Egermann, Emily Elsner (Adams), Chris Fremantle, Jessica Fullwood-Thomas, Diego Galafassi, Jen Gobby, Ami Golland, Shiara Kirana González-Padrón, Irmelin Gram-Hanssen, Jakob Grandin, Sara Grenni, Jade Lauren Gunnell, Felipe Gusmao, Maike Hamann, Brian Harding, Gavin Harper, Mia Hesselgren, Dina Hestad, Cheryl Anne Heykoop, Johan Holmén, Kirsty Holstead, Claire Hoolohan, Andra-Ioana Horcea-Milcu, Lummina Geertruida Horlings, Stuart Mark Howden, Rachel Angharad Howell, Sarah Insia Huque, Mirna Liz Inturias Canedo, Chidinma Yvonne Iro, Christopher D. Ives, Beatrice John, Rajiv Joshi, Sadhbh Juarez-Bourke, Dauglas Wafula Juma, Bea Cecilie Karlsen, Lea Kliem, Andreas Kläy, Petra Kuenkel, Iris Kunze, David Patrick Michael Lam, Daniel J. Lang, Alice Larkin, Ann Light, Christopher Luederitz, Tobias Luthe, Cathy Maguire, Ana-Maria Mahecha-Groot, Jackie Malcolm, Fiona Marshall, Yiheyis Maru, Carly McLachlan, Peter Mmbando, Subhakanta Mohapatra, Michele-Lee Moore, Angela Moriggi, Mark Morley-Fletcher, Susanne Moser, Konstanze Marion Mueller, Mutizwa Mukute, Susan Mühlemeier, Lars Otto Naess, Marta Nieto-Romero, Paula Novo, Karen ÓBrien, Deborah Anne O'Connell, Kathleen O'Donnell, Per Olsson, Kelli Rose Pearson, Laura Pereira, Panos Petridis, Daniela Peukert, Nicky Phear, Siri Renée Pisters, Matt Polsky, Diana Pound, Rika Preiser, Md. Sajidur Rahman, Mark S. Reed, Philip Revell, Iokiñe Rodriguez, Briony Cathryn Rogers, Jascha Rohr, Milda Nordbø Rosenberg, Helen Ross, Shona Russell, Melanie Ryan, Probal Saha, Katharina Schleicher, Flurina Schneider, Morgan Scoville-Simonds, Beverley Searle, Samuel Petros Sebhatu, Elena Sesana, Howard Silverman, Chandni Singh, Eleanor Sterling, Sarah-Jane Stewart, J. David Tàbara, Douglas Taylor, Philip Thornton, Theresa Margarete Tribaldos, Petra Tschakert, Natalia Uribe-Calvo, Steve Waddell, Sandra Waddock, Liza van der Merwe, Barbara van Mierlo, Patrick van Zwanenberg, Sandra Judith Velarde, Carla-Leanne Washbourne, Kerry Waylen, Annika Weiser, Ian Wight, Stephen Williams, Mel Woods, Ruth Wolstenholme, Ness Wright, Stefanie Wunder, Alastair Wyllie, Hannah R. Young

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Formalised knowledge systems, including universities and research institutes, are important for contemporary societies. They are, however, also arguably failing humanity when their impact is measured against the level of progress being made in stimulating the societal changes needed to address challenges like climate change. In this research we used a novel futures-oriented and participatory approach that asked what future envisioned knowledge systems might need to look like and how we might get there. Findings suggest that envisioned future systems will need to be much more collaborative, open, diverse, egalitarian, and able to work with values and systemic issues. They will also need to go beyond producing knowledge about our world to generating wisdom about how to act within it. To get to envisioned systems we will need to rapidly scale methodological innovations, connect innovators, and creatively accelerate learning about working with intractable challenges. We will also need to create new funding schemes, a global knowledge commons, and challenge deeply held assumptions. To genuinely be a creative force in supporting longevity of human and non-human life on our planet, the shift in knowledge systems will probably need to be at the scale of the enlightenment and speed of the scientific and technological revolution accompanying the second World War. This will require bold and strategic action from governments, scientists, civic society and sustained transformational intent.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101724
Number of pages18
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Early online date25 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Sustainability science
  • Epistemology
  • Transformation
  • Social-technical transitions
  • Knowledge
  • Climate and energy research


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