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The future of sustainability projects: Flights of fancy or a threnody to a lost age?

Chapter in book
Authors Karin Ingelhag
Mirek Dymitrow
Shelley Kotze
John Wright
Published in In: Dymitrow, M. and Ingelhag, K. (eds.), Anatomy of a 21st-century sustainability project: The untold stories
Pages in production
ISBN 978-91-984166-3-3
Publisher Mistra Urban Futures
Place of publication Gothenburg
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Unit for Human Geography
Mistra Urban Futures
Pages in production
Language en
Keywords projects, projectification, 21st-century, autoethnography, sustainability, affinity, bravery, courage
Subject categories Social Sciences Interdisciplinary, Technology and social change, Human Geography, Philosophy, Ethics

Abstract

Just like a living organism, also the project has an anatomy, a life span and a purpose. A project has its given actors, given timeframe and phases, and a given goal. Towards the project’s completion, all these factors must intertwine perfectly, otherwise the project’s success will be challenged. Uncovering how these intricacies are held in place has been the epistemological foundation of this book. However, rather than relying on formal project descriptions, reports and evaluations, we chose a different way, autoethnography. By exploring the implicit knowledge that emerges during the process of running a complex 21st-century sustainability project, we wanted to better understand what makes it tick, halt or change its course. Taking cue from the various project actors’ personal reflections on their own role within the project has helped illuminate a complex transdisciplinary co-creation process from the perspective of the individual. We conclude that if we truly want to attain sustainability transitions, then the organisation, the methods and the modes of thinking utilised in projects must differ from the traditional ones. But reaching a breakpoint for behavioural change must be rooted in interactions where the participating individuals and organisations have a common understanding of the complex challenges that are entailed in running a sustainability project in the 21st century.

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