Academic Journal Article

The Disruption Nexus

Roman Krznaric explores the conditions in which crises lead to transformative societal change. He finds that transformative responses are most common in conditions of war, disaster, revolution, and disruption. The latter refers to “a moment of system instability that provides opportunities for rapid transformation” which is created by the “disruption nexus” of crisis events (typically […]

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Polycrisis in the Anthropocene as a Key Research Agenda for Geography: Ontological Delineation and the Shift to a Postdisciplinary Approach

Motivated by a desire to strengthen the social relevance of geography in the quest for global sustainability, Matlovic and Matlovicova discuss how the subdisciplines of geography and the rich heritage they present, as well as other related disciplines, can be integrated into the geographical study of polycrisis in the Anthropocene epoch. The authors identify polycrisis

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Economic Globalization’s Polycrisis

Eric Helleiner defines polycrisis as “a cluster of distinct crises that interact in ways that they and/or their effects tend to reinforce each other” and argues that economic globalization is experiencing a polycrisis made up of five constituent crises: the deepening trade war between the United States and China; the move towards national self-sufficiency in

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All Crises are Unhappy in their Own Way: The role of societal instability in shaping the past

The authors argue that the current body of research into societal crises—defined here as “periods of turmoil and destabilization in socio-cultural, political, economic, and other systems, often accompanied by varying amounts of violence and sometimes significant changes in social structure”—concentrates on a narrow selection of historical examples. Addressing this, the authors compile a database of

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How useful is the concept of polycrisis? Lessons from the development of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit during the COVID-19 pandemic

The authors examine domestic policymaking processes amidst polycrisis by tracing the Canadian government’s development of its Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) during the Covid-19 pandemic. They argue that the process embodied three key best practices for national-level policy design in a crisis—policy integration, learning, and agility—and show how these elements evade capture by the polycrisis

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Polycrisis in the Anthropocene: An Invitation to Contributions and Debates

This commentary introduces “Polycrisis in the Anthropocene,” a special issue of Global Sustainability journal. It elaborates upon three major contributions of the issue’s lead article, “Global Polycrisis: The Causal Mechanisms of Crisis Entanglement,” and it explores three key debates surrounding the polycrisis concept: Are we in a polycrisis, at risk of a polycrisis, or neither?

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Global Polycrisis: The Causal Mechanisms of Crisis Entanglement

The authors translate polycrisis from a loose concept into a research agenda by providing the concept with a substantive definition, highlighting its value-added in comparison to related concepts, and developing a theoretical framework to explain the causal mechanisms currently entangling many of the world’s crises. In this framework, a global crisis arises when one or

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Evolution of the Polycrisis: Anthropocene Traps that Challenge Global Sustainability

In this article, the authors, inspired by the polycrisis, identify and explore potential 14 traps affecting humanity in the global human context, brought about by the trajectory of our increasing complexity and influence on the Earth system. These traps are then categorized as global, technological, or structural traps and then further assessed to produce statistical

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Evolution of the polycrisis: Anthropocene traps that challenge global sustainability

Using expert solicitation, the authors identify 14 “evolutionary traps” (global, technological, and structural) that risk locking humanity into unfavorable (maladaptive) trajectories that seriously restrict its ability to adapt to the Anthropocene. These traps develop over four phases: initiation, scaling, masking (of harmful interactions), and trapping. The fourth phase involves one of five trapping mechanisms: constraints,

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Navigating the polycrisis—governing for transformation: The 2024 agenda for the systems community

In this article, the authors argue that the polycrisis is the manifestation of challenges outlined by the earlier scholarship of the “global problematique,” a set of systemically related factors including political, social, and ecological challenges such as pollution, resource depletion, and population growth. The polycrisis is recognized as the outcome of profound governance crises that

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