Archive for January, 2018

New Research on Social Tipping Points

Earlier this week, a group of scholars (including myself) published a review paper on social tipping points.  The article will be open access, and the article has now been made available online at

This paper originated in a workshop at the Complex Systems Society conference in Arizona in 2015.  An assessment of preliminary results occurred at a workshop in Oaxaca in 2017 with a group of researchers (including several of the paper’s authors) and practitioners.

In our article, we analyze how the term has morphed over time as its application has grown from natural systems to social and social-ecological systems.  We also note how the definitions and characteristics assigned to the term have proliferated.  This has led to a lack of clarity in the use of tipping points, particularly in social systems.  We identify 23 distinct features of tipping point definitions.  Using both qualitative and quantitative analyses, we propose definitions for social tipping points that draw upon the most frequent features and logical consistency.  The field is clearly in its infancy, and we welcome insights and comments on the paper.

Is a Zero Waste Super Bowl Possible?

Over the years, I’ve had the great pleasure to work with a number of amazing, motivated, brilliant students dedicated to transforming society through their work in Greenlight Solutions student sustainability solutions group.  They work with local organizations to solve sustainability challenges confronting these groups.

One of these wonderful students and Greenlight alum and board member, Nate Gassman, has been working with Jack Groh to make major sporting events zero waste.  Nate’s position at Pepsico has enabled him to continue this work at next week’s Super Bowl.  This work has been featured in an article in Fortune Magazine. There is also a wonderful video with Jack and Nate that can be seen in this Business Insider Article.  For more details (and a silly video of Hines Ward dancing in support of recycling), see this website.

Some of my current students in my undergrad class on governance are engaged in a similar project with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to make the Arizona State Fair a Zero Waste event as well.  I’ll report back in a few months on their efforts.  I look forward to seeing what they do!