What does it take to study learning in transitions? A case of citizen energy in Finland

Satu Lähteenoja*, Sampsa Hyysalo, Jani Lukkarinen, Tatu Marttila, Heli Saarikoski, Maija Faehnle, Lasse Peltonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Learning is commonly presented as one of the key premises of transitions governance. Empirical literature on learning in a sustainability transition context often remains on a generic level, without an in-depth analysis of what is learned and by whom. In this article, we address the study of learning in transition-related multi-party processes. We analyze a transition arena specifically designed to support the participants’ learning and the possibilities to study it. Its focus was on urban citizen energy, increasing renewable energy production via solar panels, heat pumps, and other on-site solutions in detached apartment buildings. We investigate the process through the learning levels (learning loops) framework within which we were able to examine if and what kind of learning can be inferred to have happened and show what kind of data and analysis such inferences minimally require. Our results demonstrate that all participants reported learning from the arena process. This learning was predominantly first-order learning within participants’ already pro-transition orientation. Half of the participants also reported some second-order learning, changing one’s interpretative framing about citizen energy. Overall, the multi-party envisioning process supported participants’ ongoing transformation efforts more than it resulted in transformative learning. Our results provide a basis for further development of a learning-sensitive approach enabling identification and consideration of methodological challenges involved in inferring learning in transitions research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-664
Number of pages14
JournalSUSTAINABILITY: SCIENCE, PRACTICE, AND POLICY
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • citizen energy
  • co-design
  • learning
  • Sustainability
  • transition
  • transition arena

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