About The Research Study
Our study examines the emergence of the Transition movement in Canada. Our goal is to better understand how social movements respond to emerging environmental and economic challenges, and to document and describe some ‘lessons learned’ and ‘promising practices’ that might help strengthen the Transition movement here and elsewhere around the world. Our study uses a combination of surveys, interviews, and interactive story telling workshops to collect information from people involved in Transition initiatives across the country. Some of the questions we will pursue in this study include:
- How has the Transition movement unfolded and taken root in Canada?
- What are Transition initiatives doing, with whom, and how?
- What challenges have initiatives faced, and how have they sought to overcome them?
- How do Transition initiatives enable participants to explore and embody new ways of thinking and doing ‘sustainability’, community ‘resilience’, and equity?
- What can be learned from these experiences that can inform this and other movements?
We have been awarded a 3 year grant (2012-2015) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC*) to carry out this research.
*The SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) is a federal research funding agency that promotes and supports University-based research and training in the humanities and social sciences
Yes, the Transition Emerging research protocol has undergone rigorous review by the Health Sciences Research Ethics Board (REB) at the University of Toronto (and at each investigator’s home institution) and has been granted ethics approval. Click to view a copy of the Ethics Approval Letter – Protocol ID 28359.
The research is conducted by a multidisciplinary team of social science researchers led by Dr Blake Poland at the University of Toronto (see “Meet the Team” page for full team description), supported by a ‘Movement Advisory Group’ active in the Transition movement in Canada who are providing advice on key aspects of the research but who will not have access to ‘raw’ data.
The main study is actually a collection of interconnected smaller studies using specific methods. Over the 3 years, we will be undertaking a number of research activities, including a web scan, document analysis, interviews with movement leaders, surveys of movement participants, and interactive regional workshops.
Click to read a more detailed overview of the research methods of this study – Transition Emerging Research Methods Overview.
We see ourselves as engaged in research about but also for the Transition movement, information that is relevant and useful to those engaged in the movement and those undertaking similar work. We hope to increase the application of our findings by sharing them with various kinds of environmental communities (academics, non-governmental organizations, municipal and higher orders of government, public and private sectors, the transition network, civil society, and others). We will publish our results in national and international peer-reviewed journals, as well as trade publications and environmental press.
Environmental researchers, community practitioners and government officials interested in transitioning to a lower-carbon future may be able to learn from and draw on our researchfindings.
Our research is a collaboration among a number of universities, disciplines, and movement leaders. We aim to contribute to the training of innovative and skilled environmental researchers and undergraduate and graduate students, the leaders of the future, as well as building research capacity within the movement itself.
Our desire is to generate new and insightful knowledge about the transition movement, and to learn from and contribute to a vibrant Transition movement.
The Transition movement is a new kind of response to peak oil, climate change, energy insecurity, environmental degradation, and economic upheaval. These are complex interrelated issues that define our times, and call for more than just technical solutions, but also significant shifts in everyday lifestyle and collective social practices.
Some see this as an opportunity for creativity, personal growth, and meaningful social action to re-localize, build community, and enhance social equity and well-being. Communities can band together to build the networks, practices, and structures required to carry us through this unprecedented period of change, creating the change we want to see rather than being waiting victims of the plans of others. These are the foundational premises of the global Transition movement. This movement began in 2004 in Totnes (UK), and has gone ‘viral’ around the world.
In addition to being a grass-roots, citizen-led response to the combined challenges of economic uncertainty, rising energy prices, climate change, resource depletion, and the erosion of community, the Transition movementencourages a positive vision and practical focus that rises above the doom and gloom stories we always hear about climate change and peak oil. The movement imagines a proactive transition to a low-carbon society, requiring resilient communities, ‘re-skilling’ for a low-carbon future, and re-localizing the production of basic needs, while emphasizing opportunities for greater connectedness and celebration.
To learn more about the Transition movement and Transition Towns, see www.TransitionNetwork.org or go to the “Further Resources” page for more links and references.
If you have any questions about the Transition Emerging Study, or would like to know more, please CONTACT US!