Photo: Representatives of 6 European projects studying grassroots sustainability innovations

On September 10-11th TESS researchers Liz Dinnie, The James Hutton Institute, UK, and Anne Holsten, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany, attended the 2nd Pressure Cooker workshop in A Coruña, Spain. The aim of the workshop was to bring together researchers from across Europe working on sustainability transitions to discuss theories of change. It was hosted by the GLAMURS project co-ordinators Prof. Ricardo Garcia Mira and Adina Dumitru and the ARTS co-ordinator Niki Frantzeskaki. As well as TESS’ sibling projects ARTS and Pathways, the meeting included researchers from associated projects GLAMURS, EU-Innovate and TRANSIT. All six of these projects are funded by the EU and are looking in different ways at grassroots sustainability innovations – some place more emphasis on the grassroots part (TESS), some on the sustainability part (GLAMURS, ARTS, PATHWAYS) while for others the focus is innovation (TRANSIT, EU-Innovate).

So, what does a Pressure Cooker involve? Let me tell you. It involves putting around 45 researchers in a very small room for 5-6 hours, without coffee, until they are nicely simmering, and then asking them to comment on each other’s work! And then repeating this the next day, with coffee this time, and a very late lunch. So it was a pretty intense experience. Very useful for hearing about the comparative work going on across Europe on sustainable transitions, and the academic interest that transitions are attracting from a wide range of methodological and theoretical standpoints. And then having to present your own work to a critical audience – that certainly put us under pressure and kept the mind focused on what TESS is trying to achieve and how we could learn from and integrate with the other work being funded by the EU to have maximum impact, for policy makers, other researchers and also for transition initiatives themselves.

Dr Liz Dinnie is a sociologist researching low-carbon community transitions at The James Hutton Institute, UK