Learning through evaluation – A tentative evaluative scheme for sustainability transition experiments

Christopher Luederitz, Niko Schäpke, Arnim Wiek, Daniel J. Lang, Matthias Bergmann, Joannette J. Bos, Sarah Burch, Anna Davies, James Evans, Ariane König, Megan A. Farrelly, Nigel Forrest, Niki Frantzeskaki, Robert B. Gibson, Braden Kay, Derk Loorbach, Kes McCormick, Oliver Parodi, Felix Rauschmayer, Uwe SchneidewindMichael Stauffacher, Franziska Stelzer, Gregory Trencher, Johannes Venjakob, Philip J. Vergragt, Henrik von Wehrden, Frances R. Westley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

239 Scopus citations


Transitions towards sustainability are urgently needed to address the interconnected challenges of economic development, ecological integrity, and social justice, from local to global scales. Around the world, collaborative science-society initiatives are forming to conduct experiments in support of sustainability transitions. Such experiments, if carefully designed, provide significant learning opportunities for making progress on transition efforts. Yet, there is no broadly applicable evaluative scheme available to capture this critical information across a large number of cases, and to guide the design of transition experiments. To address this gap, the article develops such a scheme, in a tentative form, drawing on evaluative research and sustainability transitions scholarship, alongside insights from empirical cases. We critically discuss the scheme's key features of being generic, comprehensive, operational, and formative. Furthermore, we invite scholars and practitioners to apply, reflect and further develop the proposed tentative scheme – making evaluation and experiments objects of learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-76
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
StatePublished - Dec 15 2017


  • Analytical-evaluative framework
  • Real-world laboratories
  • Sustainability assessment
  • Sustainability transformation
  • Sustainability transition experiments
  • Transition labs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • General Environmental Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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