Learning through evaluation: A tentative evaluative scheme for sustainability transition experiments

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Christopher Lüderitz
  • Joannette J. Bos
  • Sarah Burch
  • Anna Davies
  • James Evans
  • Ariane König
  • Megan A. Farrelly
  • Niki Frantzeskaki
  • Robert B. Gibson
  • Braden Kay
  • Derk Loorbach
  • Kes McCormick
  • Oliver Parodi
  • Felix Rauschmayer
  • Uwe Schneidewind
  • Michael Stauffacher
  • Franziska Stelzer
  • Gregory Trencher
  • Johannes Venjakob
  • Philip J. Vergragt
  • Frances R. Westley

Transitions towards sustainability are urgently needed to address the interconnected challenges of economic development, ecological integrity, and social justice, from local to global scales. Around the world, collaborative science-society initiatives are forming to conduct experiments in support of sustainability transitions. Such experiments, if carefully designed, provide significant learning opportunities for making progress on transition efforts. Yet, there is no broadly applicable evaluative scheme available to capture this critical information across a large number of cases, and to guide the design of transition experiments. To address this gap, the article develops such a scheme, in a tentative form, drawing on evaluative research and sustainability transitions scholarship, alongside insights from empirical cases. We critically discuss the scheme's key features of being generic, comprehensive, operational, and formative. Furthermore, we invite scholars and practitioners to apply, reflect and further develop the proposed tentative scheme - making evaluation and experiments objects of learning.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Pages (from-to)61-76
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 15.12.2017

    Research areas

  • Transdisciplinary studies - Sustainability transformation, Analytical-evaluative framework, Transition labs, Real-world laboratories, Sustainability assessment, Sustainability transition experiments