Archive for April, 2020

New Publication on Social-Ecological Tipping Points

There has been an increasing amount of  work on tipping points lately (see my earlier post on our paper reviewing this work).  Researchers have finally begun to put rigor into looking at social tipping points in a similar fashion to the quantitative techniques of biophysical systems.  What I mean is that, while I love reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Tipping Point”, anecdotal discussion of tipping points is often post-hoc hand-waving.

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Jean-Denis Mathias and several other frequent collaborators to model tipping points in a social-ecological system (see citation below).  In the model, there were potential tipping points in both the social and ecological sections of the model with feedback and interactions across the model.  For those interested in details, we used a common bioeconomic model for the ecosystem and an opinion dynamic model to exhibit potential social tipping points.

We wanted to explore transition pathways – how we get from a current state of the world to a new one while potentially crossing multiple tipping points.  Here’s a diagram that explains this simply (Figure 1 in the article).  We position this simple mathematical model as a means to help us understand a complex, nonlinear world and how to go about making thoughtful educated decisions in such an environment.  The DOI link below will take you to an electronic version of the full text.

Figure 1


Mathias, J. D., Anderies, J. M., Baggio, J., Hodbod, J., Huet, S., Janssen, M. A., … & Schoon, M. (2020). exploring non-linear transition pathways in social-ecological systems. Scientific reports10(1), 1-12.  DOI link

Webinar on Collaboration in Practice

Hi All!

I wanted to share the recording of a webinar by Rebecca Freeth, PhD on collaboration in practice and how to create more effective collaborations.  A link to the recording is available here.


While collaboration strikes most of us as a strategic and sensible way of working, it can also be very challenging. Failing to engage productively with interpersonal challenges can fundamentally undermine the potential of a collaborative project, or even result in its breakdown. This presentation takes as its starting point that collaborative challenges cause discomfort. I will suggest that discomfort keeps us alert to the possibility to build collaborative capacity while collaborating, and explore collaborative capacities worth cultivating. This includes paying attention to power dynamics in collaborative teams. Lastly, I will mention possibilities for collaborating in a time of social distancing and lockdown.


Rebecca is a practitioner and scholar who researches, teaches, facilitates, and writes about collaboration. A fascination with the challenges of realizing meaningful collaboration has been at the heart of her work since coordinating a 200-organisation strong network on violence against women early in her career (1998 – 2001).

In her work with Reos Partners (2009 to date), Rebecca has designed and facilitated long-term collaborative processes between members of civil society, business, academia and government to tackle issues demanding their collective attention and action. These include collaborations in the food system and land reform system in South Africa. From 2016 to 2019, Rebecca took a sabbatical to conduct her doctoral research in the Leverage Points project at Leuphana University, where she studied interdisciplinary collaboration in the field of sustainability. This was followed by a stint at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam Germany as a senior fellow to integrate her learnings from practice and research.

This is the sixth webinar on methodological approaches to studying collaborative governance and management of social-ecological systems as part of the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) working group on collaborative governance.