Goal of Research Group
The research group Anticipation and Stimulation of Transitions seeks to bring together insights on transitions in human and natural systems from researchers across all faculties at Utrecht University. The focus ranges from fundamental to applied research questions. We aim to develop a fundamental understanding of transitions that allows us to anticipate under what conditions a transition may occur. Building on that fundamental understanding we aim to identify how we can intervene in systems to stimulate transitions to desired system states or prevent systems from transitioning to undesired states.
The focus on transition arises from an urgent need to understand, manage and adapt to the rapid and non-linear changes facing human societies and the environment.
The research group is open to all UU researchers. The detailed research focus will be determined by the participants themselves and their interests and expertise.
Format of Meetings
We will organize idea-generator meetings and idea-development meetings. In generator meetings, 2 or 3 people will present their differing perspective on the topic under discussion. Following the presentations in each case, we will break into groups to discuss what was presented. Each group reports in plenary on what they discussed, and the most promising ideas are written on the board. Follow-up is a crucial part of these meetings. At the end of each meeting those people who would like to follow-up with that idea or outcome sign their name on the board and organize a follow-up idea-development meeting. In those meetings, researchers can develop the initial ideas further.
What are the specific goals of this research group?
- To produce interdisciplinary papers, proposals, educational resources, popular media articles etc.
- To build a consortium towards a larger future grant such as the NWO Gravitation
- To develop interdisciplinary Master Thesis projects and create a stimulating interdisciplinary research environment for masters and PhD students
- To share knowledge of methods and approaches to understanding transitions
- To develop new integrative theories of transition across disciplines
Anticipation of Transitions
Anthropogenic change is perturbing many biophysical systems such as drylands, lakes and the dynamical systems in oceans (Kéfi et al., 2007; Scheffer et al., 2001; te Raa and Dijkstra, 2002), with the risk of critical transitions in these systems is increasing (Steffen et al., 2018). To protect natural biophysical systems from transitions we need to be able to anticipate which systems are at risk of transition and where the tipping points in these systems may lie (Feng Qing Yi et al., 2014; Yin et al., 2016). Where we anticipate transitions are likely, we need to intervene to prevent a transition to an undesirable system state (Scheffer et al., 2001). To do this, requires an understanding of the resilience of these systems and how that may be increased.