Transdisciplinary Socioecological Research

The Role of Science in Sustainability Transitions: Lessons from Transdisciplinary Socioecological Research on a Greek Island

Panos Petridis


The thesis presents lessons from several years of doing transdisciplinary socioecological research that aims at outlining a sustainable future for the Greek island of Samothraki. Analytically, it contributes to debates within social ecology and island studies, exploring the factors that help local communities to sustain themselves and thrive on islands, and those that might trigger ‘collapse’. To this end, a socioecological research approach to island sustainability is employed that builds upon a comprehensive analytical framework, but also offers a way to conceptualise potential interventions in the direction of sustainability, identifying potentialities as much as vulnerabilities and opening up new socioecological possibilities. By doing so, it also fulfills a secondary aim, that of providing scientific support in a process of transforming Samothraki into a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Finally, it also becomes self-reflexive by evaluating the process of doing transdisciplinary socioecological research and focuses on the role of scientific research in ‘analysing’ and ‘catalysing’ a sustainability transition.

Related Publications

Petridis, P. and J. Huber. 2017. A Socio-metabolic Transition of Diets on a Greek Island: Evidence of “Quiet Sustainability”. In: “Socio-Metabolic Perspectives on the Sustainability of Local Food Systems“. E. Fraňková, W. Haas, S.J. Singh (eds.). Springer, 263-289.

Petridis, P., M. Fischer-Kowalski, S.J. Singh and D. Noll, 2017. The Role of Science in Sustainability Transitions: Citizen Science, Transformative Research, and Experiences from Samothraki Island, Greece. Island Studies Journal, 12(1), 115-134.

Petridis, P. 2016. Establishing a Biosphere Reserve on the island of Samothraki, Greece: A transdisciplinary journey. Sustainable Mediterranean, Special Issue, No 72, 39-41. Issue available online at:

Petridis, P. and M. Fischer-Kowalski, 2016. Island Sustainability: The Case of Samothraki. In: “Social Ecology: Analyzing Society-Nature Relations across Time and Space”, H. Haberl, M. Fischer-Kowalski, F. Krausmann, V. Winiwarter (eds.), 1st ed. Berlin: Springer, pp. 543-557.

Petridis, P., B. Muraca and G. Kallis, 2015. Degrowth: between a scientific concept and a slogan for a social movement. In: “Handbook of Ecological Economics”, J. Martinez-Alier and R. Muradian (eds.), Edward Elgar, pp. 176-200.

Petridis, P., R. Hickisch, M. Klimek, R. Fischer, N. Fuchs, G. Kostakiotis, M. Wendland, M. Zipperer and M. Fischer-Kowalski. 2013. Exploring local opportunities and barriers for a sustainability transition on a Greek island. Social Ecology Working Paper 142, Vienna, June 2013, available at:

Petridis, P. 2012. Perceptions, attitudes and involvement of local residents in the establishment of a Samothraki Biosphere Reserve, Greece. Eco.mont-Journal on Protected Mountain Areas Research. 4 (1), 59-63.