DRIFT is a world-leading institute for research on and for sustainability transitions. We conduct interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research to better understand and facilitate new ways of thinking, doing and organizing in contemporary transitions.


Many of the worlds most pressing problems cannot be solved without fundamental change of the societal systems that sustain them. Transition research can help us understand the complex nature of these challenges and show us how societal transitions are and can be influenced to lead to more just, sustainable and resilient societies.


Positioning DRIFT

In order to support and accelerate sustainability transitions, we focus on opportunities for transformative change. Our research starts from the notions of complexity, uncertainty and unpredictability and uses system thinking in combination with relational approaches to place contemporary challenges in their historical context and in relation to their potential futures. We use existing analytical frameworks in the field of transition studies (such as the multi-level and multi-phase perspective), but also explicitly aim to improve, enrich and extend these models.


Unique about our approach in the field of Transition Studies is that we study the broader social challenges of sustainability transitions, including economic, political and cultural perspectives on transitions. Our particular expertise in transition governance sparks a continued curiosity into new governance notions, the paradoxes of change and the political struggles and dilemmas accompanying transitions and transition governance.


By studying and conceptualising issues such as power and agency in the roles of diverse actors, we deepen our understanding of how societal dynamics are and can be influenced.


Research approach

While ranging from fundamental to applied action research, our normative orientation to develop transformative knowledge is a defining characteristic: we aim to create knowledge that is critical of the status quo, contributes to fundamental change, and generates sustainable futures.
By conducting our research in a transdisciplinary manner and applying our insights in practice and education, we aim to involve and empower a wide variety of actors to contribute to transformative social change. Vice versa, we employ experiences in practice to inform transition theory, to develop new conceptual models and analytical methods.



Much of our current research takes place within the context of larger consortia funded by national and EU agencies. To get an impression take a look at a selection of our research projects.


About Sustainability Transitions Studies

Master Thesis Supervision