The Pathways Autumn School is a space for early career researchers to learn, share and reflect on the current research modes and practices in sustainability science to gain a better understanding of sustainability challenges and the capacity to better engage in inter- and transdisciplinary processes needed to affect societal transformations.

The 2023 Autumn School, which took place in the picturesque commune of Aussois, France, gathered a diverse cohort of 30 early career researchers working across Europe from disciplines spanning the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. Over five days, participants had the chance to discuss and reflect on topics ranging from the concepts of habitability and social metabolism, environmental justice and conflicts, to the role of environmental humanities and engaging with policy and society through keynote sessions and workshops.

Habitability Within Planetary Limits: A Multi-Scalar Issue

Nathalie Blanc, CNRS, University of Paris Cité, LADYSS

Nathalie Blanc self-describes as an environmentalist and she is Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Director of the Centre for Earth Politics. In this video, Nathalie provides an overview of the work the Centre of Earth Politics has been doing since 2019 and gives us a context for the urgency of the Earth's habitability. What do we mean by habitability? Why do we need to talk about planetary boundaries? How do (or should) we live within planetary limits?

How to Not Collapse the Human Life Support System on Earth

Wolfgang Cramer, CNRS, Mediterranean Institute of Marine and Terrestrial Biodiversity and Ecology

Wolfgang Cramer is an environmental geographer and global ecologist who is research director (CNRS) at the Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology (IMBE), in Aix-en-Provence, Marseille and Avignon (France). This is not a video about 'collapse-ology' but Wolfgang presents the fundamentals of earth system science in an attempt to show the physical and biological capacities of the Earth. He shows future projections and observations of the severity of the acceleration of climate change and also takes into account the social and human factors of this.

The Making of World Movements for Environmental Justice

Joan Martinez Alier, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB)

Joan Martinez-Alier is an Emeritus Professor of Economics and Economic History, and a senior researcher at the ICTA Autonomous University of Barcelona. In this video, he gives us a preview of his upcoming book "Land, Water , Air and Freedom - the making of world movements for environmental justice" to be published in December 2023. Joan shares his reflections on social movement theory, social metabolism and degrowth and takes insights developed from the Environmental Justice Atlas to ask the question: Is there a global environmental justice movement?

Teaching Environmental Humanities for a Sustainable Future

Hanna Straß-Senol, Rachel Carson Center

Hanna Strass-Senol is the Director of Environmental Humanities Development at the Rachel Carson Center. In this video, she presents an overview of the Environmental Humanities to engage with the relevance of this research area for Sustainability Science. She then provides a detailed outline of the Environmental Studies Certificate programme and the Masters of Arts in Environment and Society. Interdisciplinarity is deeply embedded and forms the basis of these programmes. Both programmes aim to substantiate increased interest in environmental knowledge and encourage students at the Masters level to learn, reflect and most importantly act across disciplinary boundaries.

(De)constructing Capitalism

Anke Schaffartzik, Central European University

Anke Schaffartzik, Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy at Central European University, presents her research on how viewing society socio-metabolically aids our understanding of the problem(s) within capitalist society today and how this is a time for us to rethink and reimagine the role of research to provide (potentially) transformative knowledge.

An Introduction to the Social Ecology of Capital

Éric Pineault, University of Quebec

Eric Pineault, professor in the Department of Sociology and the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal, explained in this presentation the underlying concepts of social metabolism. Here, he covers the idea of material stocks and material and energy flows in the economic process. He concludes with the social implications of material flows, exploring how they relate to wider social struggles.

Linking Socio-metabolic Research and Practice Approaches for Studying Consumption

Helmut Haberl, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU)

Helmut Haberl is a professor at the Institute of Social Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, in Vienna (BOKU). In his presentation he focuses on the role of the material stock of buildings and infrastructure, and he explains how social metabolism can be understood as a stock-flow phenomenon and how this is closely connected to services provision. He also covers the idea of eco-efficiency, noting how decoupling commensurate with ambitious climate targets has never been observed so far.

What transition? Exploring possible futures through socio-ecological perspectives

Sabine Barles, University Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne

Sabine Barles, Professor at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, presents the project PIREN-Seine, which aims to explore new possibilities of socio-ecological transition for the Seine basin. An interdisciplinary approach, including the work of biogeochemistry, agronomy, urban planning, history, territorial ecology, and prospective studies, PIREN-Seine developed three pathways for the future of the Seine basin. The project allows to think outside of the traditional box and explore contested options for transition.

Biodiversity, Life Insurance, Dark Knowledge

Klement Tockner, Senckenberg Society of Nature Research

Klement Tockner is Director General of the Senckenberg Society for Natural Research and is trained in biodiversity and water management. In this video, he provides a vast overview of challenges facing the development for a safe and just corridor for our planet and humankind. This ranges from declining species and genetic diversity affecting human well-being, to the increase in dark knowledge surrounding biodiversity, and the outdated management of water resources in a way that favours mainly engineering solutions rather than integrated solutions.

IPCC AR6: Updates from a Naive Climate Scientist, and Thoughts about the Process

Gerhard Krinner, Institute for Environmental Geosciences (IGE), CNRS

Through his experience as a coordinating author of the 6th IPCC report, Gerhard Krinner dives into the internal mechanisms at play behind IPCC reports. First, he presents the slow historical evolution of the IPCC’s work towards demonstrating with certainty humanity's responsibility in climate change. Then, he discusses the obstacles that prevent this science from fully reaching society and policymakers - the most important one being the opaque state interests embedded within IPCC processes.