ELRC awarded R13 million to lead international project

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The Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC) at Rhodes University has been awarded R13 million to lead a project on learning-centred transformation in social-ecological sciences (SES). The International Social Science Council (ISSC) has this week announced the funding of three “Transformative Knowledge Networks” as part of the innovative Transformations to Sustainability Programme. The ELRC is leading the only Network from the South which involves nine partners from four continents, under Professor Lotz-Sisitka.

“Initially over 500 applications were received by the ISSC, out of which 40 were granted seed funds for development of substantive proposals.  In the second round, 99 applications were submitted, of which three were funded” explains Professor Lotz-Sisitka, project leader and newly appointed as a Tier 1 SARChI Chair in Global Change and Social Learning Systems at Rhodes University.  

 “We are excited to be amongst the three that were funded, and to work with such a creative international network and programme,” shares a delighted Professor Lotz-Sisitka.

The need for more radical forms of learning-centred transformation is increasingly recognised in the social-ecological sciences (SES). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014) recently reported that there is a strong need for learning-centred approaches to climate change adaptation.

To address this gap, the ELRC, together with consortium partners from four continents (Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe) will use the grant from the ISSC for the formation of a transformative knowledge network focusing on transformative and transgressive learning, under their ‘Transformations to Sustainability’ programme.

These approaches to learning remain under-developed and undertheorised in the SES and limited research has been done on this type of learning, or on how such learning emerges or can be expanded and up-scaled to strengthen agency for sustainability transformations at multi-levels.

Working with civil society, youth, academic, government and community partners across nine countries in diverse areas that are vulnerable to arising impacts at the climate-energy-food-water security and social justice nexus the project aims to initiate, frame and investigate expansive, transgressive approaches to learning. The programme will examine how such learning can initiate and expand sustainability transformations in selected community sites in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.

This research programme falls under the newly established ‘Transformations to Sustainability’ programme of the ISSC which is part of the wider FutureEarth global research alliance programme.

A first academic paper on the programme has already been published in the Current Opinion on Sustainability Journal and can be accessed at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2015.07.018

Caption: Project Leader, Prof. Lotz-Sisitka and Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela

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