Research Profile

My current  research interests and activities focus on sustainable innovation and transitions, in particular visions, backcasting and transition management. My research evolves around three lines, each one addressing different aspects of visions.

1. Making visions for transitions: this line includes application of participatory backcasting and transition management for generating visions using experts or through stakeholder engagement. The aim of this research line is to develop and refine methods and to test these in real life projects engaging stakeholders. It includes overall methodology development, visioning methods, participatory tools, and modelling of visions. This work has been part of EU funded projects like Glamurs, InContext, SusHouse, Erahim, and the Edgar project ‘The next 50 years’. using (participatory) backcasting or transition management. Relevant publications include Quist & Vergragt (2006), Quist et al (2001) Van der Voorn et al (2012), Scott et al (2012), and Silvester et al (2013). Currently, work is done on energy backcasting for regions and islands, including Small Island Development States (SIDS), as well as on the circular economy and waste management in mega-cities in developing countries.

2. Evaluating visions (projects): this line focuses on the evaluation of visioning and backcasting projects, not only shortly after their completion (e.g. analysing participation, methods, learning), but also the analysis of their impact and effects after several years (analysing for instance their vision diffusion, network formation  and institutionalization). This has been key to my dissertation (Quist 2007) on the impact of participatory backcasting experiments. Relevant publications include Quist et al (2011) on food and land-use backcasting projects and Van der Voorn et al (2015) on climate adaptation, and recent work on pilots in circular buildings (Leising et al, under review).

3. Vision dynamics in emerging niches and transitions: this line of research focuses on the dynamics of visions emerging in niches and the long-term dynamics of visions in transitions and includes how this relates to learning and agency. Examples include visions in energy cooperatives, urban agriculture and water management transitions. This includes how this leads to new and sustainable business models and how this influences social innovation and niche practices of prosumers and sustainable consumption and production (SCP).

4. Domains of interest: include Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP), Circular Economy, Renewable Energy Transitions, Industrial Ecology, Climate Adaptation and water management, and Urban Agriculture and Food.

5. Renewable Energy Transitions: This topic focuses on regions (e.g. Galicia, Spain), SIDS (Small Island Developing States, e.g. Reunion, Caribbean, Pacific), and cities (e.g. Turku, Finland). It has been developed through student work since 2012, but is developing into research proposals linked to the Ocean Energy theme at TU Delft ( and new external collaborations (e.g. with the University of South Pacific