Jifke Sol successfully defended her PhD thesis on the role of reflexivity in social learning on June 8, in the auditorium of Wageningen University.
Complex sustainability problems can be witnessed in for example climate change, water pollution and loss of biodiversity. For a sustainability transition -on the scale of regions- new knowledge, relations and actions are needed. Assumed in this dissertation is that social learning in multi-actor governance networks can contribute to these innovations. The challenge is how to make effective use of the diversity of actors that can be found in transition arenas. A key factor of social learning seems to be a lack of trust, combined with a lack of commitment and a lack of reframing of perspectives and understandings, leading to a so-called lock-in situation. The overarching research question is: What fosters social learning processes in regional governance networks for sustainability transitions?
Research in different regional governance networks shows that reflexivity can influence the emergent and interrelated properties of social learning: trust, commitment and reframing. The research also shows that change agents can play a significant role at specific moments in the social learning process by performing reflexive interventions. The conclusion is that reflexivity provides a way out of lock-in processes in social learning. The model hereafter reflects the interaction of the main concepts in the thesis:
Currently, Jifke is monitoring and coaching new governance networks with reflexive approaches in order to support the interaction, learning and co-creation for new sustainable knowledge and actions.