Building knowledge for change: methodologies and ontologies for investigating socio-metabolic regimes (2)


Friday 22 November 2019    10am-5pm

Room 3D233 - Campus Luigi Einaudi – University of Turin


Despite the claims that promise a reduction of greenhouse gases to mitigate climate crisis, the accumulation of these gases in the atmosphere is increasing day by day as well as the consumption of nature, which is at the basis of climate heating. Reversing these social metabolic trends is first of all a scientific challenge since a good understanding of the factors at stake is needed in order to define effective strategies able to drive societies towards a stable de-carbonization. Beyond the mere quantification of the impacts of human activities, a deeper comprehension of the processes responsible for their production is thus particularly urgent. The policy and scientific community can rely on many well established tools to account for the inputs (energy and materials) and the outputs (waste and emissions) that shape the metabolism of socio-material systems (such as the ‘Footprints family’ or Material Flows Analysis or Life Cycle Assessment or again Input/Ouput Analysis). Notwithstanding the robustness of these approaches in terms of measurement of the societal impact on the planet, the social mechanisms from which this impact are likely to be produced still remain a black box, thus hampering any effort to reach a concrete sustainable turn. An interesting alternative in this respect is represented by MUSIASEM - Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism. Being it the operationalization of an interesting narrative focused on the interaction among scales and functions of the social system, this approach is able to identify different metabolic patterns, measure their impacts on natural and social systems and assign them to specific social configuration.

The workshop aims at promoting an informed discussion among experts about MUSIASEM with attention paid to present its current use and potential applications and to explore potential contaminations both from the methodological as well as from the conceptual side.

The first part of the Seminar aims to present the logic and the main operational tools that define MUSIASEM approach with the objective of providing critical insights and remarks on this tool, in order to make clear its actual potential in identifying and meaningfully qualifying the material flows going throughout socio-material systems.

The second part aims to open up the black box of the social dynamics, organization and regulation of production/consumption complex by which these material flows are produced and steered. The comprehension of the social basis of the metabolic flows could mitigate or solve conflicts that, given the current structure of the metabolic regimes, may rise from the implementation of sustainable policies. What is often happening, in fact, is that as soon as some changes of these flows take shape, immediately people rise up against these changes. This shows how the road towards the decoupling between economic growth and material consumption is very hard to realize. In order to avoid a conflictual “politics of suffering” we need a new understanding of the way in which metabolic regimes influence social conditions of reproduction in order to find ways by which institutions and communities begin to regulate, plan, manage these flows on the base of socio-material justice principles.

For more information regarding the schedule, please click here.



In the framework of the XXXVIII conference of AISRE - Associazione Italiana di Scienze Regionale (Cagliari, 20 – 22 settembre 2017) the Unesco Chair for Sustainable Development and Management of Territory organizes the session

Global challenges and local processes: towards sustainable strategies for economic development

General description and topics

In defining strategies to face the persisting economic crisis, time has come to push a strong focus on the social , economic and environmental impacts (i.e the sustainability) of current models of production, distribution and consumption. The sustainability of these models has to be considered not only as a mere component of a wider strategy deriving from a grown awareness about risks for the environment, but as a crucial issue, with a strong economic value, related to the scarcity of resources and the social and economic costs that is urgent to deal with.

In this framework, regional sciences may play a crucial role since the global dimension of environmental and social pressure connected with human activities can be strongly influenced by economic process developed at local level. Sustainability of these processes is in fact in itself a phenomenon that emerges from the complex inter-playing of local and global processes, as shown by the more common approaches that scientists of different disciplines have been adopting in the last decades ranging from the diverse environmental accounting methodologies to ecological footprint and social impact assessment.

Papers submitted to this session are expected to cover one (or more) of the following research topics:

  • Methods and approaches for enviromental accounting
  • Sustainable energy systems as a strategy to valorize local resources (smart grid, geothermal, solar, ...)
  • Policy models and initiatives for sustainability at urban and regional level
  • A social perspective for studying sustainability : impacts, constrains and opportunities
  • Renewing relations between urban and rural areas: agroecology and ecosystem services


  • april 12rd , 2017 : Abstract’s submission
  • april 19th , 2017: Abstract’s Acceptance
  • june 16th , 2017 : Award for the best essay presented by a Young Researcher
  • june 16th , 2017 : Payment of participation’s fee1
  • june 16th - july16th, 2017: Submission of the paper2
  • End of july: Draft of the Conference’s Programme
  • september 20th- 22th , 2017: Conference

1In addition to what reported on the AISRE website, for further information about possible reductions for the participants to organized session please contact Alessandro Sciullo- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2The submission of the paper is mandatory only if you want it to be included in the conference’s proceedings

How to submit a proposal of contribution

  1. Register to the AISRE website by filling this module
  2. Have access to your ‘Area Riservata’ page by clicking on the label in the right-topcorner of the Home Page of Aisre's site
  3. Have access to 'Profilo Utente' page by clicking on the related label in the left menuand verify that the fields Nome (Name) and Cognome (Surname) are correctly filled. If not, please fill them.
  4. Click on ‘Invio abstract’ (or ‘Invio Paper’ ) in the upper left menu
  5. To submit an abstract please compile all the fields of the module and select from the dropdown list ‘Sessione Organizzata’ the session: 07 – Global challenges and local processes: towards sustainable strategies for sustainable development

Useful Links and contacts

AISRE website -

XXXVIII Conferenza homepage -

General Call for Papers -

For any further information and detail please contact Alessandro Sciullo – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


UniTo Green Office (UniToGo)


UniToGO (Unito Green Office) UniToGO is the new "office" of the University of Turin for environmental sustainability.

UniToGO is an interdisciplinary network composed by Professors, Researcher, technical and administrative staff and students with the purpose of analysing and promoting sustainable strategic plan for the University of Turin.

UniToGO is the main promotor of the "Environmental Sustainability Action Plan" (ESAP), a strategic 5 years plan for the University of Turin.


Visit the web site for further information or contact the group at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thursdays of SoLaRS

Energy, Power and Nature

Transition strategies towards sustainability

The socio-environmental issues that arise from the appropriation, conversion, transformation, distribution and use of energy and raw materials are becoming increasingly evident. The dynamism of communities and their development prospects are closely intertwined with the availability of energy and raw materials. A historical analysis shows that the sources of energy and raw materials, as well as social work organized for their use, are crucial to the organization of society and its development potential. On the other hand, while the scale of the ongoing ecological crisis and the metabolic rift between society and nature, – which manifests itself mainly through climate change and the change in the availability of organic and inorganic raw materials – has brought the issue of use of resources to the fore and made it a pivotal on the global political agenda.

However, the activation of a transition towards renewable energy and an economy based on circularity able to mitigate climate change within a short time is surrounded by uncertainty. It is also hard to see whether this desirable energy transition will be able to redefine the power relations currently shaping the world networks of energy, mining and work. There is no certainty that energy will become a public good and will stop being the main commodity able to determine major financial fluctuations on a global scale and commodity prices, as there is no certainty about the possibility that independent and decentralized energy communities will be capable of generating free clean energy for themselves and others.

Scenarios abound, but several aspects indicate that the transition will be hard but necessary, given the materiality of energy dynamics intertwined with socio-economic stability issues concerning wide areas of the planet; with the availability of key raw materials such as the so-called "Critical Raw Materials", the logistics-driven mobility of goods and people; food production and price variability – as for cereals, cocoa, coffee, meat; the local and global war scenarios; and growth and degrowth related issues. These centralized networks governed by powerful vertical corporation, constitute the main obstacle to an energy transition, and a circular economy of raw materials which already has to face the strength and rigidity consists of powerful socio-unique technical devices able to transform high entropy energy usable energy in low entropy.

Energy and raw materials are at the centre of our model of development, but to most people they are invisible, taken for granted and imperceptible; they are perceived as managed by powerful networks that capture, produce, refine, convert, distribute and supply. These centralized networks, run by powerful vertical corporations, are the main obstacle to an energy revolution and a circular economy of raw materials, which would also require to overcome the path dependency due to the powerful socio-technical systems that are uniquely able to transform high entropy energy into low entropy energy.


Thursday 20 October; 16,30 - 18,00
Scenarios of Circular Economy. Geothermal energy recovery for agriculture
Introduce Dario Padovan
Relator Giuseppe Mandrone, Department of Geological Sciences

Thursday 17 November, 14,00 - 16,00
Integrating circular economy and social LCA: challenges and opportunities
Introduce Dario Padovan
Relator Nadia Tecco, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Sciences

Thursday 24 November, 14,00 - 16,00
Scenarios of Circular Economy. Strategies of microfoundation for urban metabolism
Introduce Dario Padovan
Relator Alessandro Sciullo, Department of Culture, Politics and Society

Thursday 1 Dicember, 14,00 - 16,00
Smart Energy Grids. The transition of socio-technical devices towards circularity. Reading Deleuze
Introduce Dario Padovan
Relator Osman Arrobbio, Department of Culture, Politics and Society

Tuesday 13 Dicember, 14,00 - 16,00
The crises of capitalism and of environment
Introduce Dario Padovan
Relator Aurelio Angelini, University of Palermo

Thursday 15 Dicember, 14,00 - 16,00
The contribution of ecosystem services towards scenarios of circular economy
Introduce Dario Padovan
Relators Joachim Maes and Sara Sozzo JRC Europe

Tuesday January, 16,00 - 18,00
Agroecology: models, practices and sustainability
Introduce Dario Padovan
Relator Cristiana Peano, Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali e Alimentari

Tools and Methods

  • Carbon, water e ecological footprint
  • Statistic
  • Agent Based Modelling
  • Multicriteria Analysis
  • Policy impact evaluation: Cost/Benefit Analysis, quantitative methods and counterfactual analysis qualitative policy evaluation
  • Social Ecological Network and Nexus Analysis
  • Qualitative Methods for social research (Ethnography; Observation; Interviewing; Focus Groups; Oral history and Narrative method; Discourse/textual analysis); Questionnaires

  • Surveys: design and analysisLiving Lab for co-designing and participatory planningSystem Thinking and Eco-system analysis

  • Eco-linguistics, eco-semiotics and bio-semiotics

  • Skill assessment and guidance in ecological transition processes

Are you looking for the best website template for your web project? Look no further as you are already in the right place! In our website templates section you will find tons of beautiful designs - for any kind of business and of any style. You are in a unique place - join us today BIGtheme NET

Contact us

for any question and information

How to contact us

UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Development and Territory management
University of Torino


  • Via Po, 18
  • 10124 Torino, Italia


  • phone: +39 011 670 2733
  • email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Facebook
  • Youtube