co-production epistemology Publications Reflections socio-ecology

Quantitative Storytelling: Science, Narratives, and Uncertainty in Nexus Innovations

Our collective reflection after four year research in the @MAGIC_NEXUS project has finally been published (open preprint: This was a slow and careful science process. We took the time to think together, to cross-analyse our different experiences with the Quantitative Storytelling approach (QST) and to let new insights and learning emerge. I wish I had more of this in my hectic academic life.

We started by looking back at the onset of the MAGIC project, when QST was conceived as an iterative research process that linerly combined narrative analysis, multi-scale assessment of the water-energy-food nexus and stakeholder engagement, with the purpose of transforming dominant policy narratives around innovations for sustainability. We then created a framework for comparing the four innovation cases were involved in: biofuels, shale gas, electric vehicles and alternative water resources. We realised that our processes had not been as linear and iterative as expected. We arrived at a different view of the QST process in which two main avenues can be considered: 1) challenge dominant narratives on innovations as solutions for sustainability problems; 2) co-create new narratives and imaginaries. Rather than direct policy or narrative change, the outcomes from these processes might be diverse and diffuse. They extend beyond the observed time frame and are harder to trace or quantify.

In the long run, routes of this kind may contribute to shared alternative socio-technical imaginaries that may, in turn, lead to changes in the governance of nexus innovations.