SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

SPRU research centre publishes guide to Transformation Labs

The STEPS Centre, in collaboration with its partners, has published a guide to Transformation Labs (T-Labs) drawing on lessons from the Pathways Network, a global project within STEPS that explores how transformations to sustainability could happen across cultures and disciplines. The 40-page guide also extensively builds on work from a number of SPRU researchers.

A T-Lab is a process involving research and transdisciplinary engagement to address a complex problem or challenge. They are specifically designed to guide transformations in social-ecological systems towards sustainability through innovation, the development of change strategies and creating prototypes of possible interventions. They include a set of stakeholders who may have different roles and perspectives, but who have an interest in solving the problem and some ability to influence change.

Since 2016, the Pathways Network has convened T-Labs to respond to social-ecological problems in six countries (Argentina, Mexico, Kenya, China, the UK and India). T-Labs: A Practical Guide reflects on the experiences and lessons from the network to inspire those who are considering similar approaches.

Stories of Change

T-Labs: A Practical Guide includes six case studies that each summarise how the T-Lab process worked differently in the different countries studied by the Pathways Network. They show how transformations in each place depend on the context and people involved, and how the Network researchers adapted their approach.

The UK case study, reported by SPRU’s Dr Adrian Ely and Ms Elise Wach (IDS) describes how a team of researchers set out to discover how small agro-ecological farmers close to the city of Brighton and Hove could be supported to supply the city and create a more sustainable food system. As a result, it was suggested that a policy review of the Downland Estate should be conducted and a research and innovation hub established.

Further information

The guide, and lessons from the Pathways Network, will be shared at an event in Nairobi on 10 October 2018 convened by the Africa Sustainability Hub.

Read the six stories of change from the T-Labs

Download the guide: T-Labs: A Practical Guide Using Transformation Labs (T-Labs) for innovation in socialecological systems