Third seminar: Methods for public participation in sustainability transitions

© Theresa Tribaldos

Stakeholders and citizens engagement have become an important element in both environmental research and governance. The importance of societal engagement to produce legitimate and policy-relevant knowledge to support sustainability is also emphasized by several national and international funding agencies. The turn towards just sustainability transition has further accentuated this trend by emphasizing the need for participatory and reflexive governance processes.

In the context of sustainability transitions, participation activities are, however, usually limited to specific stakeholder groups and relatively little attention is paid to the general public and citizens. It is more challenging to reach out to the general public and to involve ordinary citizens in research projects. Accordingly, researchers are still struggling to find ways to engage in a meaningful dialogue with citizens and to mobilize their local knowledge and environmental observations in research projects.

This webinar aims at broadening researchers’ understanding about different methodological options to engage citizens in sustainability transition research. Come and join the webinar with Professor Jason Chilvers, Professor Maija Setälä, Professor Lorna Heaton and Associate Professor Taru Peltola to learn and discuss about public participation in sustainability transitions.


Jason Chilvers is a Professor of Environment and Society and founding chair of the Science, Society and Sustainability Research Group (3S) at the University of East Anglia, UK. A key focus of his work has been to reconsider public participation from a more relational and constructivist perspective, which has prompted new paths for remaking participatory practices in more experimental, reflexive and responsible ways. He is a Co-director of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) where he has led the development of a new Public Engagement Observatory.

Maija Setälä is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Turku, Finland. She is an expert of democratic theories, especially theories of deliberative democracy, as well as various types of democratic innovations. At the moment, her research focus lies on issues of long-term decision-making, especially how deliberative citizen participation might counteract short-termism in representative politics. In her talk, Prof. Setälä will address the role of deliberative mini-publics in policy response to climate change.

Lorna Heaton is a Professor of Communication at the University of Montreal, Canada. She has expertise in collaborative science, citizens engagement in local initiatives and open community innovation. In her research, she explores how digital technologies help organize and channel collaborative activities of groups and organizations. By combining collaborative approach, digital technologies and art-based methods, her research highlights the potential contributions of marginalized actors. Prof. Heaton will talk about art-based methods for research and participation.

Taru Peltola is an Associate Professor of social sustainability at the Finnish Environment Institute where she develops and coordinates citizen science activities. Her research focuses on novel interactive approaches in environmental policy and sustainability transformations. She experiments with collaborative methods in contentious environmental issues and assess the potential of citizen science and other forms of civic science in strengthening public engagement in evidence-informed decision making.


Public webinar programme 

Thursday 30 September 2021 at 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EET 

Suvi Huttunen and Minna Kaljonen, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE

Remaking participation in sustainability transitions 
Professor Jason Chilvers, University of East Anglia (UK)

The roles of deliberative mini-publics in policy response to climate change 
Professor Maija Setälä, University of Turku (FIN)

The potential of art-based methods for research and participation
Professor Lorna Heaton, University of Montreal (CAN)

Commentary note 
Associate Professor Taru Peltola, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE

Questions and discussion

Webinar materials

More information 

If there are any questions, don't hesitate to contact: 

  • Suvi Huttunen, Senior Research Sientist, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE,, Tel. +358 295 252 169
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The webinar is part of webinar series organised to promote reflective and critical discussion on methodologies and new research questions raised by sustainability transformations. This webinar was organised in collaboration with the Pulu-project. Pulu is a methodological project, which aims at consolidating the Finnish Environment Institute’s capabilities and capacities in public engagement needed for the acceleration of just sustainability transitions.

The webinar series was organized as a collective effort between Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) at the University of Bern (Switzerland) and Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex (United Kingdom). The CDE engagement in the seminars was supported by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland, while the SYKE engagement was funded by SYKE seed money.

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Published 2021-08-25 at 8:29, updated 2022-02-15 at 9:37
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