Transformative Knowledge

Creating and using knowledge for transition goes beyond simple theory building: our aim is to create and help develop knowledge that is critical of the status quo, that contributes to fundamental, irreversible change, and that generates sustainable futures. Knowledge that transforms ourselves, our organisations, and society.




Climate change, inequality, resource depletion, economic crises: our world is facing a number of persistent problems. Current approaches to solving these problems do not reach the core, but only combat symptoms. Therefore we need interdisciplinary knowledge and transdisciplinary knowledge, that is created by researchers and practitioners working together to address real-world problems – but we need more.


We need transformative knowledge: knowledge that is systemic, critical, generative and reflexive, with both societal and scientific impact. Transformative knowledge includes taking an integrative approach and treating systems as a whole, is supportive of the aim of grasping the complexity of current problems and critical towards the current status quo. It is generative of possible sustainable futures and related actions. Furthermore, it is reflexive in taking account of the broader context as well as our own and others’ roles in knowledge co-creation processes. Transformative knowledge helps us position our organisation and ourselves, our research, consultancy, education and interaction. Simultaneously, transformative knowledge is reflexive in taking account of the broader context of transition initiatives, as well as our own stance.

Transformative knowledge challenges each of us not o stop at the analysis, to oppose the status quo, to devise innovative solutions, and to include reflexivity and meta-learning. It is the type of knowledge needed for fundamental, irreversible change: it is knowledge for transition.

We create and (help) develop transformative knowledge in our research, consultancy and education, and we study and support the learning processes that are part and parcel of transformative knowledge (co-)production. In creating and using transformative knowledge, we focus on four key areas:


1. Research for Transition,
We aim to chart, underpin and understand the diverse ways that society is influenced by research in pursuit of sustainability transitions. We also focus on the actual research practice including (transformative) research methodologies, methods and quality criteria, the role of the researcher, the relationality of our engagements, and its societal relevancy in terms of impact and contribution.


2. Learning and Reflexivity,
We consider the (co-)production of transformative knowledge as the result of learning processes. To lead to transformative knowledge, these learning processes need to incorporate multiple perspectives and to include actions in order to generate experiences for further learning, and account for the reflexivity inherent in our practices of knowledge (co-)production. Reflexivity helps us to position ourselves and our practices, research, consultancy and education.


3. Impacts of transitions,
We start from the basis that transition-oriented projects have unpredictable outcomes – while traditional approaches often overlook unexpected outcomes and results. Therefore, we monitor and study transition initiatives and develop methods and tools to better identify their transformative impacts and learning processes.


4. The Role of Science in transition,
We aim to analyse the current science system and how it is both driving and hindering science actors in their research about and for sustainabilty transitions. As such it covers the questions on how science-society relations are, should be and can be. It also aims to address what the role of science actors is, such as universities, research institutes or science policy bodies, their relations towards one another and to other societal actors – and to reflect on our own role.