Welcome Benvenuti Bienvenidos Willkommen


I am an Assistant Professor of Social Change for Sustainability in the Copernicus Institute of sustainable Development at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. I am also a Visiting Fellow at the School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Reading.

I am concerned with understanding the social-ecological processes that lead to, or prevent, change toward sustainable socio-ecological configurations in different placesI engage with issues of sustainability, resilience and transformation of agricultural systems, sustainability transitions and post-capitalist transformations, and social change theories.

This website contains information on my research, teaching and academic service, and gives access to my publications.

Recent writings and news

April 2018. Invited talk. Governing peri-urban agriculture in Sogamoso,Colombia: a critical analysis. Transmobilities brownbag seminar series, Department of Human Geography and Planning, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

February 2018. New article: Nicolosi, E., Medina, R., Feola, G. 2018. Grassroots innovations for sustainability in the United States: A spatial analysis. Applied Geography, 91: 55-69.

January 2018. Invited talk. Should we (un)make space for sustainability? An interdisciplinary perspective on societal transformation to sustainability. Distinguished seminar, Department of thematic studies - Environmental Change, Linkoping University, Sweden.
October 2017. New article: Barrett, T. Feola, G.Khusnitdinova, M.,  Krylova, V. 2017. Adapting agricultural water use to climate change in a post-Soviet context: challenges and opportunities in Southeast KazakhstanHuman Ecology. DOI: 10.1007/s10745-017-9947-9

October 2017. Invited talk: Transformation to sustainability from the bottom up? Place, space and scale in grassroots-led transformative initiativesInterdisciplinary Seminar Series on Human Well-being and the Environment, UCL, 25 October

August 2017. Talk: Adapting agricultural water use to climate change in the context of post-Soviet transformation in Kazakhstan: constraints and opportunities. Resilience 2017, 20-23 August, Stockholm, Sweden.

May 2017. New Research Brief: Agricultural water use in Southeast Kazakhstan: current challenges and adaptations to water stress. With Tristam Barrett, Marina Khusnitdinova, Viktoria Krylova. English and Russian versions available for download.

Little research so far has been devoted to understanding the diffusion of grassroots innovation for sustainability across space. This paper explores and compares the spatial diffusion of two networks of grassroots innovations, the Transition Towns Network (TTN) and Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale (Solidarity Purchasing Groups – GAS), in Great Britain and Italy. Spatio-temporal diffusion data were mined from available datasets, and patterns of diffusion were uncovered through an exploratory data analysis. The analysis shows that GAS and TTN diffusion in Italy and Great Britain is spatially structured, and that the spatial structure has changed over time. [continue reading...]

Feb 2017
. New article: 
The application of Rapid Appraisal of Agricultural Innovation Systems (RAAIS) to agricultural adaptation to climate change in Kazakhstan: a critical evaluationAgricultural Systems, 151: 106-113, with Tristam Barrett (now at the Max-Planck Institute for Social Anthropology), and Viktorya Krylova and Marina Khusnitdinova (at the Kazakh Institute of Geography).

Place-based social, cultural, institutional and political dynamics not only influence the innovation capacity of agricultural systems, but also the willingness of relevant actors to be involved in participatory research processes, and the dynamics of their participation. This paper critically discusses the modification and application of one particular participatory approach to agricultural systems analysis (Rapid Appraisal of Agricultural Innovation Systems [RAAIS]) to agricultural adaptation in Southeast Kazakhstan. We find that [continue reading...]

Jan 2017. New article: Adaptive Institutions? Peasant Institutions and Natural Models facing climatic and economic changes in the Colombian AndesJournal of Rural Studies, 49:117-127.

In the Colombian Andes, peasants have co-evolved with their environment for centuries, but it is uncertain whether traditional informal institutions and natural models are adapting to current and possibly unprecedented economic and climatic disturbances. This study investigated institutional adaptation and the social mechanisms of institutional change or continuity among peasants in the Eastern Andean Cordillera. This study suggests that reciprocal work exchanges, festivities and gender-based divisions of roles have been disused or changed due to economic pressures, but that most informal institutions have persisted due to selective outmigration, conformist intergenerational transmission, and practices of everyday resistance. [continue reading...]

Dec 2016. New blog post. Special issue: Resilience in the rural Andes.

The Andes present an ideal learning space to draw lessons on existing and emerging resilience challenges and opportunities. Andean people and societies have [continue reading...]

Dec 2016
. New article (and introduction to the special issue): Resilience in the rural Andes: Critical dynamics, constraints and emerging opportunitiesRegional Environmental Change, 16(8):2163–2169, with Diana Sietz, Wageningen University.

This Special Issue aims to improve our understanding of the key dynamics of socio-ecological systems that constrain or foster resilience in the rural Andes. The Special Issue, published in the journal Regional Environmental Change, comprises six papers that investigate three core features of resilience in a variety of socio-ecological systems: diversity, connectivity and development models. The novel insights into resilience dynamics include specific features related to the high-mountain contexts and socio-political tensions in the Andes. Future research can build on this knowledge to further not only resilience theory but also methodological approaches which reflect both case-specific and generic complexity. [continue reading...]

No2016. New article: The diffusion of the Transition Network in four European countriesEnvironment and Planning A, 48(11):2112-2115, with Mina R. Him [Open access here]

The Transition Network exemplifies the potential of social movements to create spaces of possibility for alternatives to emerge in the interstices of mainstream, neoliberal economies. Yet, little work has been carried out so far on the Transition Network or other grassroots innovations for sustainability in a way that reveals their actual patterns of diffusion. This graphic of the diffusion of the Transition Network visualises its spatial structure and compare diffusion patterns across Italy, France, Great Britain and Germany. The maps clearly show that in all four countries the diffusion of the Transition Network has not been spatially even. The graphic suggests that in each country transition initiatives are more likely to emerge in some geographical areas (hotspots) than in others (cold spots). [continue reading...]

Oct 2016. New article: Transition in Place: Dynamics, Possibilities, and Constraints. Geoforum, 76:153-163, with Emily Nicolosi.

The Transition Movement is a translocal phenomenon circulated through transnational grassroots networks. This study explores the geographies of the Transition Movement with a theoretical framework that perceives it as both a social movement and a grassroots innovation. Participant-observation of Transition Salt Lake (TSL), located in the suburban metropolis of Salt Lake City, Utah, was conducted, as the United States remains a largely understudied country in regards to this particular movement. In this pursuit, we asked: (i) how and what this transition initiative draws from geographically extensive and intensive relations, (ii) how it combines place-specific elements and generalized models (embeddedness), and (iii) how this impacts the success of the transition initiative and how these impacts (positive or negative) are generated. Place, space, and scale played a large role in defining the nature, dynamics, possibilities, and constraints of this transition initiative. [continue reading...]