Shifting to a sustainable society

KSI departs from the perception that our society must make a shift to a sustainable society. This means not to leave problems to be dealt with by subsequent generations, or to shift them to other places in the world, or to transfer them from one 'system' to the other. To achieve this, large-scale, fundamental changes in our society are required: transitions. These are made up of the modernisation of many sectors: system innovations. In turn, these require efforts on the part of many, highly diverse parties. System innovations can only come about through the collective effort of parties from different cultures, structures, and institutions, each bringing in their own skills and knowledge.

Obstacles standing in the way of transition

  • One of the major problems is the lack of fundamental knowledge about transitions and how they can be influenced and directed. KSI will develop this knowledge.
  • Another problem is the lack of diffusion of fundamental knowledge. KSI will build a mechanism to establish a link between fundamental research on transitions and actual practice stimulate the diffusion. At the same this allows to acquire feedback on the directions the fundamental research programme should take.
  • The problem of diffusion is also addressed by contributing to the development of a critical mass of actors in our society with the necessary competences to professionally facilitate transitions and system innovations.

What KSI intends to achieve

KSI's mission is to develop and bring across the fundamental knowledge and competencies necessary to initiate and maintain system innovations and transitions towards a sustainable society. In doing so, KSI hopes to develop a lasting interaction between fundamental knowledge development on the one hand, and practical knowledge as generated with practical transition contexts on the other. KSI's focus will be on the interaction between generic transition knowledge and context-specific knowledge. This context is first the transition towards sustainable agriculture and mobility. This is represented by the alliance that has been established with Transforum and Transumo. Then in the next phase KSI will also focus on the health care sector. KSI must earn international recognition both among the scientific community and in practice, contribute to the academic knowledge pool and provide high-level support for policy and civil society.

How the research programme is organised

At the core of this project is the dynamic interaction between transition experiments and the generation and application of knowledge. Societal transition processes drive and inspire the interdisciplinary knowledge development through learning by doing in practice. In turn, the development of new transition knowledge enables informed action of key stakeholders in societal transition processes. In order to realise this interaction, the KSI Knowledge Project includes three sub-programmes:

  1. Fundamental Transition Programme (FTP) geared to the development of fundamental knowledge of transition and transition management. There are three complementary research lines within this programme:
    • I) research on historical transitions,
    • II) research on ongoing and future transitions, and
    • III) research on transition management.
  2. Practice-oriented research (PO) focusing on the development of competences, conditions and exchange mechanisms based on transition experiments in various sectors. Proposals for these research projects are selected and co-funded by organisations and stakeholders actively involved in ongoing transition processes. Many projects are combinations of FTP and PO.
  3. Testing Ground (TG) (nl: proeftuinen) as part of practice programmes managed by practice organisations in which KSI researchers participate. Testing Grounds are practical transition experiments in which relevant stakeholders work together to contribute towards solving persistent social problems in specific sectors at the system level. The KSI focus of these Testing Grounds is on sustainable agriculture and sustainable mobility, and in a later phase if feasible on the health sector. In due course other fields may be entered, such as sustainable energy, sustainable land use and sustainable construction.