4.1: Innovation and Sustainability: the '3D' agenda

In this section, we'll look at some ways to think about innovation, and how we might orient innovation towards social justice and environmental sustainability.

Essential reading

STEPS Centre (2010) ‘Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto’ (OA), STEPS Centre, Brighton – multimedia version (see especially the part A New 3D Agenda)

Questions to guide reading
  1. Why do the authors argue that traditional metrics for measuring innovation (e.g. 'gross expenditure on Research & Development') are limited? Why is this important when thinking about sustainability?
  2. What do the 3Ds stand for?
  3. In what way do the authors argue that these 3Ds can support socially just and environmentally sustainable directions of innovation?

Lecture: Innovation and Sustainability – the 3D agenda

Dr Adrian Ely (Research Fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex) introduces the 3D agenda and what it means for innovation.


Additional reading

Ely A., Smith A., Stirling A. (2013) Innovation politics post-Rio+20: hybrid pathways to sustainability?, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 31: 1063-1081

New Manifesto interactive timeline (OA)

Leach, M., Rockström, J., Raskin, P., Scoones, I., Stirling, A. C., Smith, A., Thompson, J., Millstone, E., Ely, A., Arond, E., Folke, C., and Olsson, P. (2012) Transforming innovation for sustainability, Ecology and Society 17(2):11 (OA)

Stirling, A. (2009) Direction, Distribution and Diversity! Pluralising Progress in Innovation, Sustainability and Development (pdf), STEPS Working Paper 32, Brighton: STEPS Centre (OA)

Stirling, A. (2014) Emancipating Transformations: From controlling ‘the transition’ to culturing plural radical progress (pdf), STEPS Working Paper 64, Brighton: STEPS Centre (OA)

Assessment questions

  1. Discuss how attending to direction, diversity and distribution might underpin innovation policy that can support socially just, environmentally sound pathways to sustainability.
  2. How does the STEPS 3Ds agenda link to the ideas raised by Stirling in his “keep it complex” paper? (see Reading list, Part 2)

Go to the next section > 4.2: Grassroots Innovation

Last modified: Thursday, 2 February 2017, 2:50 PM