Call for EOIs: Pathways Postdoctoral Grants from Future Earth


Future Earth


Sunday, September 11, 2022

Start Date

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Pathways, as a concept, is gaining attention across sustainability-related fields in response to rapidly intensifying socio-environmental problems. However, with its increased ubiquity comes a diversity of associated concepts (e.g., transition, adaptation, transformation, scenarios, etc.) covering different scales, founded in diverse disciplines, focusing on various systems, and with distinct methodologies and objectives. Four broad categories of pathways approaches are often distinguished: (1) Quantitative Systems Modelling and Target-based Scenarios, which aim to analyse and compare specific sets of policies (or scenarios) through target-based backcasting and forecasting projections through quantitative modelling approaches (Turnheim et al., 2015); (2) Socio-technical Transitions look at shifts in socio-technical regimes based on interactions (e.g., external pressure, internal conflict, innovation) with the socio-technical landscape and niche innovations (Geels & Schot 2007; Scoones et al., 2020); (3) Adaptation Pathways are characterised by the adaptive nature of the decision process in the face of high uncertainty and inter-temporal complexity in the context of climate change (Werners et al., 2020; Rosenbloom 2017). and; (4) STEPS – Social, Technical and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability are founded in social and political sciences and describe approaches that enable fundamental change in power structures, institutions, and social dimensions (Leach et al., 2010; Scoones et al., 2020). 

The diversity of pathways approaches share a number of complementarities, united by a common understanding of the need for drastic action and alternative modes of existing on earth that are more sustainable and desirable. The difficulty of classifying these approaches according to their scale, discipline, system of focus, methodologies and objectives is a reflection of greater cross-pollination occurring between them. Traditionally ‘top-down’ approaches are becoming more inclusive, engaging in processes of co-design and co-development of pathways at the local and regional level. At the same time, the pathways research arena is still dominated by high-level technocratic pathways, whereas local and regional level pathways continue to receive less attention.

This Pathways Initiative call encourages the development of new interdisciplinary and international collaborations between scientists to carry out synthesis of knowledge to support a critical reflection and analysis about the development of pathways for sustainability in practice. Each submitted proposal will focus on one research theme related to pathways for sustainability. Examples of research themes include, but are not limited to, climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation, land use management, urban transition, water management, sustainable fisheries, etc. 

The Pathways Postdoctoral Grant will support a Pathways Project aimed at synthesising existing knowledge about the approaches for developing pathways within a specific theme. Special attention should be paid to the processes involved in developing these pathways rather than only the outcome. A Pathways Project will be developed by a Working Group which will include a Postdoctoral Researcher funded through the Grant (see Eligibility section for more details). Overall, the Grants will support three Working Groups on three different themes and their Postdoctoral Researchers over a 24-month period.