Archetype Analysis in Sustainability and Land Governance Research
Artist: Anne Ludwig, "Dom Mosaik"

Archetype Analysis in Sustainability and Land Governance Research

Short Description

The Working Group on Archetype Analysis in Sustainability and Land Governance Research will advance three priority thematic areas of GLP's Science Plan by providing synthesised insights into archetypes of (un)sustainability related to 'Telecoupling of Land Use Systems', Land Governance' and 'Land Change Trade-Offs for Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity'. It will consolidate archetypes of sustainable land use and governance in order to provide a state-of-the-art knowledge resource to transform land use systems towards sustainability across world regions.

Land systems are fundamental for achieving sustainability transformations at local to global scales. However, knowledge about effective strategies to foster land system transformations remains dispersed among highly contextualised case studies. Archetypes of (un)sustainable land use and governance depict patterns of factors and processes that commonly shape the (un)sustainability of land systems across cases and contexts. The archetypes approach is a methodological approach to generalise knowledge from cases and case studies in context-sensitive ways drawing on a portfolio of methods and design criteria.

Goals and Objectives

This Working Group will address four major frontiers in current research on archetype analysis and transformations to sustainable land use systems. Specific objectives of this Working Group are:

  1. Advance middle-range theories of land use change and sustainable land use systems.
  2. Spark methodological innovations in archetype analysis (e.g. innovative mixed methods approaches, integrated pattern identification, diagnosis and scenario buidling approaches; innovative ways of validation).
  3. Provide targeted insights into scaling and transfer of sustainable land solutions.
  4. Inspire change agents for transformations towards sustainable land use systems.

GLP Themes: Land governance, Land management systems, Land use and conflict


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When decision makers want to scale-out sustainable land management practices, they need to decide where these practices may be most promising. This is a fundamental decision given the great diversity of land systems. To that end, leading land systems and land governance scientists, including researchers from GLP and beyond, discussed recent advances and frontiers of archetype analysis in the 3rd workshop on “Archetype Analysis in Sustainability Research” at Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic.   Read full post

Related Information


September 23, 2021

A new paper in Landscape and Urban Planning shows how integrating two approaches provides spatial templates for targeting policy responses related to the sustainable intensification of agricultural systems, the disappearance of traditional cropping systems and abandonment of rural lands, or the reconnection of urban population with the local environment, among others.

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August 2, 2021

A new editorial capping the Special Feature "Archetype Analysis in Sustainability Research” in Ecology and Society takes stock of successful examples of archetype analysis, reflects on opportunities and pitfalls in applying archetype analysis and opens new avenues for a second generation of archetype analysis. Co-editors are the GLP Archetype Analysis Working Group Coordinators.

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February 15, 2021

The 4th Research Workshop on Archetypes of Sustainable Development was held fully online from 3-5 February 2021. Responding to the open Call in September, more than 40 participants from 5 continents discussed current research and emerging frontiers of archetype analysis in sustainability research. In addition, a Call for Papers for the workshop's special issue is open until 30 June.

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Working Group Coordinators


Working Group Members