10. June 2016

Outlook Session – Cian O’Donovan

Nexus-thinking, nexus networking: Reflections and insights on the social sciences at and in the nexus.

Cian O’Donovan
ESRC Nexus Network Coordinator, Research Fellow
Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex.

In recent years, interdependencies between natural resources implicated in provisioning food, water and energy has been framed as the ‘nexus’.
Recognition of situated ‘nexuses’, (e.g. urban nexuses), point to the need for reflexive inter- and trans-disciplinary perspectives that bring together diverse insights and tools from beyond the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.
By making interdependent technological, socioeconomic and environmental transformations central to the nexus, this presentation will address “tensions and trade-offs between different environmental and social domains”.
We will argue that nexus challenges cannot be separated from the perceptions, interests, and practices of different actors associated with a nexus .
Attendant moves to transdisciplinary research requires democratic encounter between a range of researchers and practitioners who can work together to produce valuable knowledge.
Indeed, by broadening out and opening up nexus-related methods and methodologies, researchers and policy analysts may at the same time hope to achieve greater scientific rigour and societal accountability.
In this way, we will think through the provocation: nexus as a democratic process of deliberation and struggle aimed at furthering the voices (and interests) of the most marginalized and vulnerable sections in society.
This paper will reflect on the processes and results garnered from the ESRC Nexus Network, an innovative three-year research network which brings together researchers, policy makers, business leaders and civil society to develop collaborative projects and improve decision making on food, energy, water and the environment, funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council.