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Swimming against the current : the journey of Canadian Transition initiatives in their quest for transformative change

Ruckert, Gisela LU (2017) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20171
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Humanity's current resource use patterns are unsustainable, and corrective action is required at all levels. Grassroots social innovation groups have great potential to contribute to solutions. The Transition movement has taken hold in Canada, but little is known about its successes and challenges in creating conditions for transformative change.

Aimed at social innovation practitioners as well as academics, this thesis uses Transformative Social Innovation Theory (TRANSIT) to explore the challenges faced by Canadian Transition initiatives (TIs). Specific attention is focused on how well TIs are meeting two prerequisites for transformative change highlighted by Dumitru et al. (2016): the ability to build initiatives that attract and... (More)
Humanity's current resource use patterns are unsustainable, and corrective action is required at all levels. Grassroots social innovation groups have great potential to contribute to solutions. The Transition movement has taken hold in Canada, but little is known about its successes and challenges in creating conditions for transformative change.

Aimed at social innovation practitioners as well as academics, this thesis uses Transformative Social Innovation Theory (TRANSIT) to explore the challenges faced by Canadian Transition initiatives (TIs). Specific attention is focused on how well TIs are meeting two prerequisites for transformative change highlighted by Dumitru et al. (2016): the ability to build initiatives that attract and maintain membership, and the development of effective strategies to engage with their communities. Areas of particular concern are highlighted, including a high rate of dissolution. In addition, the study highlights characteristics which distinguish successful TIs. These include a greater tendency towards distributed leadership, self-evaluation, strategic planning, and viewing all partner groups as potential allies in the quest to build a more sustainable future. The author discusses the implications of the Canadian context, monitoring and evaluation, engagement choices, and suggests additional areas for potentially fruitful partnerships, including health/social agencies, the business community and academia.

Based on data gathered through an in-depth questionnaire and interviews with 15 Canadian TIs, this thesis suggests that many initiatives are struggling to survive, let alone create transformative change. In the face of very significant hurdles, TIs need to arm themselves as fully as possible using social learning, system knowledge, strategic partnerships, and well thought-out engagement strategies to maximize their effectiveness, while being cognizant of the dangers of co-option. Further support from the Transition Network, particularly resources on evaluation, strategic planning and the dynamics of social change could enhance their success, as could the establishment of a Canadian Transition hub. Without a higher level of interconnectedness and support, Canadian TIs will remain largely isolated and dependent on finding the right mix of resources locally – a formidable challenge which places the overall sustainability of the Canadian movement in doubt. (Less)
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author
Ruckert, Gisela LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
grassroots innovations, transformative social innovation, community initiatives, Transition Movement, Canada, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2017:005
language
English
id
8918215
date added to LUP
2017-06-22 14:06:30
date last changed
2017-06-22 14:06:30
@misc{8918215,
  abstract     = {Humanity's current resource use patterns are unsustainable, and corrective action is required at all levels. Grassroots social innovation groups have great potential to contribute to solutions. The Transition movement has taken hold in Canada, but little is known about its successes and challenges in creating conditions for transformative change. 

Aimed at social innovation practitioners as well as academics, this thesis uses Transformative Social Innovation Theory (TRANSIT) to explore the challenges faced by Canadian Transition initiatives (TIs). Specific attention is focused on how well TIs are meeting two prerequisites for transformative change highlighted by Dumitru et al. (2016): the ability to build initiatives that attract and maintain membership, and the development of effective strategies to engage with their communities. Areas of particular concern are highlighted, including a high rate of dissolution. In addition, the study highlights characteristics which distinguish successful TIs. These include a greater tendency towards distributed leadership, self-evaluation, strategic planning, and viewing all partner groups as potential allies in the quest to build a more sustainable future. The author discusses the implications of the Canadian context, monitoring and evaluation, engagement choices, and suggests additional areas for potentially fruitful partnerships, including health/social agencies, the business community and academia.

Based on data gathered through an in-depth questionnaire and interviews with 15 Canadian TIs, this thesis suggests that many initiatives are struggling to survive, let alone create transformative change. In the face of very significant hurdles, TIs need to arm themselves as fully as possible using social learning, system knowledge, strategic partnerships, and well thought-out engagement strategies to maximize their effectiveness, while being cognizant of the dangers of co-option. Further support from the Transition Network, particularly resources on evaluation, strategic planning and the dynamics of social change could enhance their success, as could the establishment of a Canadian Transition hub. Without a higher level of interconnectedness and support, Canadian TIs will remain largely isolated and dependent on finding the right mix of resources locally – a formidable challenge which places the overall sustainability of the Canadian movement in doubt.},
  author       = {Ruckert, Gisela},
  keyword      = {grassroots innovations,transformative social innovation,community initiatives,Transition Movement,Canada,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Swimming against the current : the journey of Canadian Transition initiatives in their quest for transformative change},
  year         = {2017},
}