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SSRP workshop on research methods a success

On 5 June, the SSRP hosted a workshop titled Research Methods for Sustainability: social science meets natural science, and something in-between. The workshop saw around 30 participants from 10 departments across 6 schools in the University and BSMS. These participants were brought together to share the various research methods they use, how they used these methods, and the possible ways in which others could use these methods for different sustainability research projects.

Kicking off the workshop, Professor Sigrid Stagl, Head of the Institute of Ecological Economics at the University of Vienna gave a keynote presentation on SDG Economics – Concepts and Methods. Recounting her illustrious career sitting on the boundaries of orthodox economics, Prof. Stagl outlined how her ambition now is to bring a heterodox perspective back into her original disciplinary home. This description of boundary-crossing contributions and methodological homelands continued throughout the day.

Presentations in the parallel sessions covered a myriad of perspectives and approaches; from examining soundscapes (like landscapes but aural, not visual) to an active and participatory explanation of agent-based modelling, from integrating development into research to using electricity flows for examining bat migration patterns. These methods were shared openly with a multidisciplinary audience.

The day closed with a discussion of three questions:

  1. How can the methods presented at this workshop be used to analyse SDG trade-offs and synergies?
  2. What is the added value of combining or otherwise modifying the methods presented today?
  3. What should the SSRP do to support new projects on methodology for sustainability research?

The discussions from both the parallel sessions and the discussion sessions are to be compiled into an informal workshop report. This report will recount the workshop’s main points as well as set an agenda for future SSRP involvement in sustainability research methodology.

One output that was prepared prior to the workshop and will continue to be compiled in the coming months is the SSRP’s Online Methods Catalogue. This resource is designed to be a practical introduction to the plethora of methods that are used in sustainability research. The catalogue currently contains 6 methods, but will be including more in the future as participants from the workshop produce guides for their own methods used.

While the questions and debates raised in the workshop are by no means settled, it is clear that there is a thriving community of researchers across Sussex campus with an interest in multi-method sustainability research. If you’d like to be involved or want any more information, contact Dr. Joshua Hutton, Research Fellow in Sustainability Research Methods (J.R.Hutton@sussex.ac.uk).

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By: Fiona Hurd
Last updated: Friday, 14 June 2019

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