Call for Papers

With the call for IST 2021 - "Mainstreaming sustainability transitions: From research towards impact" - we invite reflection on how we, as a research community, can make sure that our work has real-world impact supporting transition processes towards a more sustainable future. In addition to submissions that engage with the STRN research agenda, we invite contributions on the conference theme. How we can go beyond our current ambition of supporting socio-technological change processes, and push more towards having real impact?

Transitions research has become an established field and the idea of ‘sustainability transitions’ is broadly accepted in policymaking; however, there is an urgent need to translate this expanding field into practical actions for policy and governance measures to accelerate transitions towards sustainability. We have a responsibility to our community to take advantage of this opportunity and to demonstrate that transitions research can support – and be part of – policymaking and governance for sustainability and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

Transitions involve all societal groups, require extensive behavioral change from many actors and affect current structures, systems and institutions. Processes of individual and collective learning and reflection are a precondition to such changes. Transitions thinking has been brought to the attention of high-level policy-makers in countries and international organizations such as the EU, OECD and IPCC. Non-governmental organisations, social movements and social innovations have been explicitly integrated into transition experiments. New methodologies are being developed or integrated from other fields, leading to new opportunities for achieving impact through research itself. It is now time to further mainstream transitions theory, research and practice into societal and political sustainability discourses, into policy practice across all policy domains as well as into other research fields.

Therefore, the focal theme of this call is:

Mainstreaming sustainability transitions: From research towards impact

For this focal theme we invite in particular submissions that consider issues of how research into sustainability transitions can support change processes. Empirical and theoretical contributions using approaches from different fields of research are encouraged. Submissions could address the following guiding questions, although these are not exclusive:

  • How can we identify impactful sustainability interventions while recognising the inherent uncertainty of complex, non-linear system trajectories?
  • How can we better reach out to other communities of research and practice to deepen our understanding of socio-technical transitions? How do we show that transitions ideas have something extra to offer and how can we incorporate the results from other fields into our research and conclusions?
  • What are implications of striving for more impact for our research practice? Which tensions exist in moving to different types of research and how do we deal with them?
  • What are methodological considerations for incorporating transitions research into transitions processes/governance/policymaking?
  • What are current blanks and gaps in transitions research and its move towards impact, and how can we begin to fill them?


Beyond the focal theme of the conference, the call also welcomes submissions that engage with the core of the STRN research agenda:

1) Conference track: Mainstreaming sustainability transitions - From research towards impact

2) Understanding transitions - conceptual contributions to transition frameworks

3) Methodologies for transitions research

4) Governing transitions

5) Organizations and industries in transitions

6) Politics, power and policy in transitions

7) Movements, culture, and civil society in transitions

8) Transitions in practice and everyday life

9) Geography of transitions:

  • Spaces, scales, and urban transitions
  • Transitions in the Global South

10) Ethical aspects of transitions: Distribution and justice


The abstract submission system will open on January 15, 2021 and close on March 15, 2021.