The Garden of Budding (Potentially Great) Ideas: What, why and how?

In collaboration with colleagues in Finland and Australia, we have started putting together an Innovative Session Proposal for the Earth Systems Governance Conference, 2022. We have called the session ‘The Garden of Budding (Potentially Great) Ideas, and we are currently seeking expressions of interest from those who want to join to present (online or in person). You can see the full call here.

Merri Corner Community Garden, Australia. Photo by Gavin Anderson, and downloaded from Wikimedia Commons, under CC BY-SA 2.0

What is a Garden of Budding Ideas?

The Garden of Budding Ideas is an opportunity for researchers to showcase their ideas that they haven’t had a chance to fully develop yet. Presenters are invited to submit their ideas related to the conference’s overall theme: insert. We expect that the budding ideas will be at various stages of development; some might be emerging research questions, whereas others may have even done empirical work already. The scope is wide.

In the session, each presenter will have 5 to 10 minutes to present their budding idea. Following, the presenters will host breakout discussions with the audience to help nurture their ideas. Discussions might be on how to embed into broader ideas and literature, or on finding collaboration for ongoing work, or on working through analytical difficulties – or anything else helpful to the presenter.

By the end of the session, presenters should have some input to help further grow and develop their ideas. And audience members should feel inspired, and be aware of the emerging ideas they can expect to see shaping the field over the coming years.

Why are we proposing this session?

Honestly, it started as a personal need. Earth Systems Governance is a major conference for me – it’s where I find a natural home for my research interests, and the community is great. I want to present at this year’s conference because its been a few years since I last presented my research. This gap as been of course influenced by Covid. But Covid came very quickly after 2 maternity leaves, an international house move (into a half-built house) and a new job. There have been times where even without the pandemic, preparing ideas for a conference felt overwhelming. The call for papers for the Earth Systems Governance conference was released with plenty of time, but I still realized that with running a department, patchy childcare, and EU funding deadlines in early February, it would be a challenge to write the abstract and commit to writing the full paper before the event. And I have it easy compared to many others.

There are many people in academia who have left their ideas half formed as a result of life circumstances (with or without Covid). It’s so hard for for many junior scholars, or those on insecure contracts, those with caring responsibilities, those battling discrimination on a personal and/or institutional level, those struggling with health, those shielding, grieving, or trying to break back into academia from jobs outside… yet all these people have great ideas that we lose by not giving them space to be seen and to grow.

Why is this important in sustainability research?

In my opinion, those of us working in sustainability science have an obligation to do things differently. As a researcher in transformations for sustainability, I know that the root causes of unsustainability lie in the systems that shape how we work and relate to each other, and the world around us. These systems are what marginalize those who do not, or cannot, compete in the system, for whatever reason. By marginalizing people, we lose their voices, closing down input from outside the system logic. Yet if we are to transform our systems, we need a diversity of voices and ideas. If we are to hear this diversity, we need to create space for it. This is true within the academic community, as well as when conducting our research. The Garden of Budding (Potentially Great) Ideas is an attempt to provide such a space, amongst caring colleagues, and at a really great conference.

How can you join in?

Submit your ideas for what you would like to talk about! The call for expressions of interest gives full session details and links to a form to complete if you would like to be included. The form is really simple – we just want to know your name, email and a couple of sentences about your budding idea. We aren’t asking you to explain your circumstances, or why you need to be part of this session – we only ask that you respect who the space should serve.

If you don’t need this space for yourself, get involved by attending the session at the conference. We would love to discuss our budding ideas with you.

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