STS - conferences, IST2012

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Framework of Integrated Scenario Design: An Approach to Meso Level Research for Sustainability Transition
Yusuke Kishita, Keishiro Hara, Michinori Uwasu, Yasushi Umeda

Last modified: 2012-03-20


Sustainability research aims to realize transitions to desirable future visions toward a sustainable society. There are many promising visions (e.g., 70% CO2 reduction by 2050), while many seeds are becoming available, such as element technologies (e.g., electric vehicles) that would serve as catalysts for transitions to those visions. However, the problem is that there is a huge gap in shaping transitions between macroscopic future visions and microscopic seeds. This paper defines “meso level research (MLR)” as a new research area that aims to bridge the gap between visions and seeds.

As an essential approach to MLR, we focus on designing scenarios since it helps describe various images toward visions by assuming possible social situations that might occur. With an aim to understand the roles and research challenges of scenario design, this paper proposes a research framework for scenario design in the context of MLR. We firstly review existing literature of scenario design to derive requirements for making scenario design practical enough to enhance MLR. The important requirements include; (1) scenarios need to be designed with various stakeholders’ involvement to challenge sectionalism within and between academic disciplines, political institutions, industries, and citizens; and (2) scenarios need to be updated to maintain the consistency between the scenarios and the real world.

Based on these requirements, we propose the concept of integrated scenario design (ISD) that reflects the scientific and social knowledge into scenarios in a comprehensive and dynamic manner. In particular, the ISD concept emphasizes the feedback loop functioning between the real world and designed scenarios for facilitating transitions toward sustainability. Finally, we investigate two cases of regional scenarios from the ISD viewpoint. The results reveal that governance is of particular importance for the ISD concept and that how to ensure reflexivity of designing scenarios remains as challenges in MLR.