SPRU PhD Students
Dr. Bipashyee Ghosh
Transformation beyond experimentation: Sustainability transitions in megacities
World’s megacities are facing acute sustainability challenges. Persistent problems such as urban pollution, resource depletion, climate change, poverty and social inequalities are shaping unsustainable futures for some of world’s most populated regions. How can these challenges be tackled? Focusing on the urban mobility regimes that contribute to the acute challenges, this thesis investigates if they can transition toward sustainability. According to sustainability transitions studies, experimentation is vital for making such a transition, through replacing existing unsustainable socio-technical regimes such as fossil fuel-based automobility. Besides niche experimentation, existing regimes can also undergo transformation towards sustainability, being enabled by regime actors. Both experimentation and regime transformation are explored in five studies covering cities like Kolkata, New Delhi and Ahmedabad in India and Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand. However, majority of the thesis has a strong focus on Kolkata.
Following an introduction, the thesis begins with a study exploring diversity in the meaning of sustainability of experiments in different social, spatial and systemic contexts. Focussing on niche experiments, the second study is an analysis of niche actors’ strategies to ‘empower’ sustainable innovations, negotiating with incumbent regime actors in legal and policy spaces. Looking beyond experimentation, a third study focuses on different transition pathways in megacity Kolkata’s public transport regimes. It proposes a new ‘mapping tool’ to identify changes in regime rules, trajectories and selection pressures. In the penultimate paper, a ‘wheel of logics’ framework is proposed to develop an understanding of the nature of dynamic stability of regimes in Global South. Finally, a critical discourse analysis examines whether a smart city imaginary in Kolkata was politically transformative, by analysing the projected distribution of benefits among its citizens, the mechanisms used to democratize the process of constructing the imaginary, and the ways in which citizens’ voices were articulated into the official imaginary.
These five studies, tied together, offer a critical understanding of sociotechnical transitions in megacities, by carrying out sustainability appraisals of experiments and developing theoretical frameworks and practical tools for understanding regime dynamics. This way, the thesis offers new conceptual and methodological insights for sustainability transitions, by emphasizing transformations beyond experimentation. These new insights are intended as contribution to shaping sustainable futures in megacities.
Dr. Jonas Torrens
Between Seedbeds and Battlegrounds: the Governance of Urban Low Carbon Transitions (Working title)
Jonas joined the Science Policy Research Unit in September 2014, as a doctoral researcher and teaching assistant. He is primarily interested in the governance of urban low-carbon transitions. Centring on cities renowned as pioneers, he is examining the historical developments and governance arrangements which enabled sustained innovative activity, bearing on the buildup of transformative capacity by local governments and civil society. He is currently finishing his first case study in Bristol, UK. He hopes to contribute to concrete efforts to expedite low carbon transitions in cities, and to the development of the burgeoning field of sustainability transitions. In 2015, working with colleagues from universities worldwide, he helped found the PhDs in Transitions Network, which works alongside the STRN Network and caters for PhDs and Early Career Researchers. The network convened its first conference in April 2016 at the University of Greenwich.
Drawing from his experience in R&D for eco-innovations and research in sustainability, Jonas teaches seminars of SPRU’s Innovations for Sustainability MSc module. Since June, he is also a research assistant for Prof Johan Schot.
Previously, Jonas worked at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, in support of the Planetary Boundaries Research Initiative, and in developing a Massive Online Open Course. He has lived and worked in Brazil, France, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
Talking Technology - The Academic Discussion of Climate Engineering Approaches and its Potential Effects on Global Climate Governance (Working Title)
Judith is Research and Teaching Fellow at the Political Science Institute at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany. After concluding her B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Heidelberg and her M.A. in International Studies/ Peace and Conflict Research at the Universities of Frankfurt/ Main and Darmstadt, she became an associated PhD student at the German Research Foundation Priority Program “Climate Engineering”. Judith’s research focuses on technology governance, with a specific stress on geoengineering governance, as well as on the role of experts for governance and transition. Aside from geoengineering, she is interested in the cases of nuclear technology, nanotechnology and digitalization, among others.
She teaches academic courses on BA and MA level on climate, environmental and technology governance at the Technical University Darmstadt. Previously, Judith worked at the Political Science Institute at University of Münster. Her research has led her to France, the USA, the UK and Canada. Contact Judith by email here.
Actor Interactions and Transformation: Development of Solar and Wind Power in China post 2000 (Working Title)
Kejia joined SPRU in September 2016 as a doctoral researcher. She got her master degree from Institute of Policy and Management, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Then she worked there as a research assistant. Her research interests include energy transition and sustainability, low-carbon economy, evidence-based policy making and scientific advice.
Intrigued by the question of how can China deploy solar and wind power so fast in recent years, her doctoral research focuses on the interaction between new entrants and incumbents in transformative process within Chinese electricity system. Using comparative case studies with two specific regions, Inner Mongolia, and Jiangsu province in China, she will examine the historical development of solar and wind power in each region from 2000 to 2016. Informed by institutional theory and strategic management literature, her study aims to contribute to sustainability transition knowledge by providing a more explicit conceptualization of strategies and resources adopted by different actors towards sustainability transition, especially their collaborations and struggles during the process.