Challenging sustainability research: Towards Decolonising methods for research, practice & Policy
The imperative to ‘decolonise methodologies’ in research, practice and policy appraisal, embodies some of the most important and intractable challenges in sustainability – offering crucial opportunities for thinking, knowing, and doing alike 1. The purpose of the dialogue series is to deconstruct and explore concepts, practices and ideas contributing to decolonising sustainability research methodologies. The dialogues will allow stakeholders therefore to explore how methods for informing policy decisions and wider political debates can enable learning, enrich knowledge, enhance practice and nurture more emancipatory outcomes in the Global South. The dialogues explore five themes derived from a conceptualisation and thematization webinar, however, as the year evolves, other emerging themes may be incorporated:
- Power and Methods: This theme is centred around how larger theories about methodologies have been applied to engage, challenge and shift power, and rein in hierarchical authorities (coloniality) associated with methods in the global south (and in Africa more specifically).
- Valuing Diversity: This theme will explore how methods have been used to open-up, broaden-out, and let-go. The theme focuses on how concrete methods have been applied in different (geographical, social, political) settings to demonstrate diversity, with a multiple of range inputs, framings, and voices.
- Philosophical Underpinnings around methods in the global south: This theme will therefore bring in different ontological and epistemological perspectives associated with decolonizing methodologies, for instance the Ubuntu philosophy within the African realities.
- Articulating methods: The theme focuses on what decoloniality of methods would mean to various actor groups (e.g., academia, policy/practitioners, third party actors, and private/business actors) in the global south, and how they have been able to identify, customize, apply, and learn from dominant methods.
- Multidimensionality of methods: This theme explores multiple facets of research (such as funding flows, research politics, and the perceived research power dynamics between female and male researcher), and how collectively they promote or undermine decoloniality of methods.
The dialogues will be convened as plenary discussions, and as debates, to elicit conversations among stakeholders, and expected to contribute to:
- A book project documenting the theory, practice and case studies for Decolonising Methods in Transformation to Sustainability which will be launched at the Annual ARIN International Conference.
- A Summer School will provide an opportunity for participants to explore how methods have been (can be) used to inform, impact and transform policies, societies and economies.
- Set of methods vignettes and videos. Through the webinars, the key lessons on decoloniality of methods would be documented for research, policy and practice to illuminate/connect practical examples and reflections, including on ‘qualities’ of methods and how these are used to open up and broaden out pathways to sustainability.