Project Profile: GoST

Governance of Sociotechnical Transformations


Principal Investigators: Silke Beck, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany
Partners: Andrew Stirling, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard University, United States, Germany
Matthias Gross, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
Christine Polzin, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany
Rose Cairns, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Philip Johnstone, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Sponsors: Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany
Economic and Social Research Council, United Kingdom
National Science Foundation, United States


Full Project Title: Governance of Sociotechnical Transformations
Full Call Title: T2S2016


Project Objective: The GoST project focuses on transformation processes in three areas of crucial relevance to sustainable development, relating in particular to pressing imperatives in countries of the Global South: energy systems, agriculture, and urban digital infrastructures. Each implicates intricate North-South linkages that must be better understood for global sustainability efforts. Adopting a systematic comparative approach, GoST uses socio-technical imaginaries as a conceptual tool to make sense of how collective imaginations of transformation have shaped present conditions. Many challenges in the three focal areas are related to the prevailing imaginary, and solutions may require radically new imaginaries. Through analysis of two interlinked parameters of transformation (dimensionality and temporality) across five nations (Germany, India, Kenya, UK, US), leading research centers in each examine, in cooperation with key stakeholders, the differences between imagined and experienced states in each focal instance of transformation in each country. By rethinking transformation through these lenses, GoST presents a methodologically innovative, integrative, empirically grounded approach that goes beyond usual characterizations of transformation as a linear process of development. Expected outcomes and impacts: GoST demonstrates feasible choices among alternative pathways for enacting socially progressive transformations towards sustainability, producing insights of immediate practical importance regarding how such transformations can best be governed in each selected area: by whom, to what ends, by what means, and with what welfare consequences for affected groups.
Call Objective: T2S has two major objectives:

To develop understanding of and promote research on transformations to sustainability which are of significant social, economic and policy concern throughout the world and of great relevance to both academics and stakeholders;

To build capacity, overcome fragmentation and have a lasting impact on both society and the research landscape by cultivating durable research collaboration across multiple borders, disciplinary boundaries, and with practitioners and societal partners. This includes facilitating the development of new research collaborations with parts of the world which are not often involved in large-scale international research efforts, notably low- and middle-income countries.


Regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America
Countries: Germany, India, Kenya, United Kingdom, United States of America (USA)


Duration: 55 months
Call Date: July 6, 2017
Project Award Date: April 26, 2018