Beyond “blah blah blah”: exploring the “how” of transformation

Julia Bentz, Karen O’Brien, Morgan Scoville-Simonds

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Calls for transformations are clear and multiple pathways and alternative visions for the future have been defined. Yet, there is very little shared understanding of how such transformations come about and how knowledge-action gaps will be filled. This Special Feature focuses on how we can go beyond talking about transformation—the “blah blah blah”—and moving toward action for results. It does so by distinguishing between the means of transformation and the manner of transformation, two key dimensions to answering the question of “how.” The means can be understood as the many solutions, technical and practical methods, or actions that are presented as significant to transformative change. The manner, in contrast, represents the ways in which something is done, i.e., ways of acting. It describes the core values, principles, qualities, and relationships that not only underpin and motivate transformative change, but shape the process. Integrating rather than conflating the means and the manner is important to better understand how transformations come about. We then present insights from the collection of papers that focus on the “how” of transformation. The papers describe different ways of integrating the means and the manner in transformation processes. We have organized them thematically as follows: papers that draw on the integration of meaning making, the integration of learning and listening, and the integration of different ways of being and becoming. Drawing on both science and alternative ways of knowing, they weave together new narratives and stories about nature, society, and the future, inviting us to embark on the journey of creating sustainability pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-506
Number of pages10
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Climate change
  • Sustainability
  • Transformations
  • Transformative change


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