Katie Kish, Ph.D.
Researcher

Additional Research

COVID-19 policy recovery, local production, social advertising, and additional publications.

Background and Context

I spent over 10 years in academia. Some academics spend their entire career focused on one major line of researcher - others end up doing multiple different projects with a diverse group of people. It really depends on the preferences of the researcher and the kind of programmes they are in. I was the kind of academic who did multiple different projects with many different people. This page is a glimpse of some of the work I did.

My academic CV
I was a powerhouse in academia for a while, you can see all my work here.
Policy Options for a Radical Recovery

Policies

In March 2020 Sophia Sanniti and I started a process of compiling policy ideas for radical change from everyone within the Economics for the Anthropocene and Leadership for the Ecozoic program. After six months of collaborative brainstorming I designed the Policy Options for a Radical Recovery webpage and synthesized all the data for dissemination. The purpose of these pages is to provide a quick and clear resource when faced with the opportunity to recommend change and to help people develop informed policies for real world action. We will continue to update the content on these pages as new ideas and examples emerge. We hope that the ideas on these pages will help inspire and ignite change.

How investment into the peer-to-peer economy helps us build a shock resistant economy and bolsters the care economy. Lockdowns exposed and deepen existing cracks in our social and economic systems. The care burden is disproportionately carried by women, the billionaires continue to amass fortunes while food banks struggle to keep up with demand, and both systemic and cultural racism reared its ugly head – Black Americans are infected at nearly three times the rate of whites, Indigenous populations face higher risk due to systemic inequities, and Asians continue to receive racist remarks referencing the origin of the virus. We need a better, more prosocial and caring, approach to taking our lives.

I also wrote a paper with Lewis Dartnell, asking: Do responses to the COVID-19 pandemic anticipate a long-lasting shift towards peer-to-peer production or degrowth?

Making a shock resistant economy with ecological economics. An intergenerational talk with one of the founding fathers of ecological economics.

Ecological Limits of the Sustainable Development Goals

As an outcome of my PhD research, I have published a book:

Ecological Limits of Development
Living with the Sustainable Development Goals

Embracing the reality of biophysical limits to growth, this volume uses the technical tools from ecological economics to recast the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as Ecological Livelihood Goals – policy agendas and trajectories that seek to reconcile the social and spatial mobility and liberty of individuals, with both material security and ecological integrity.

Since the 1970s, mainstream approaches to sustainable development have sought to reconcile ecological constraints with modernization through much vaunted and seldom demonstrated strategies of ‘decoupling’ and ‘dematerialization’. In this context, the UN SDGs have become the orchestrating drivers of sustainability governance. However, biophysical limits are not so easily sidestepped. Building on an ecological- economic critique of mainstream economics and a historical- sociological understanding of state formation, this book explores the implications of ecological limits for modern progressive politics. Each chapter outlines leverage points for municipal engagement in local and regional contexts. Systems theory and community development perspectives are used to explore under- appreciated avenues for the kind of social and cultural change that would be necessary for any accommodation between modernity and ecological limits. Drawing on ideas from H.T. Odum, Herman Daly, Zigmunt Bauman, and many others, this book provides guiding research for a convergence between North and South that is bottom-up, household-centred, and predicated on a re- emerging domain of Livelihood. In each chapter, the authors provide recommendations for reconfiguring the UN’s SDGs as Ecological Livelihood Goals – a framework for sustainable development in an era of limits.

This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of ecological economics, socio- ecological systems, political economy, international and community development, global governance, and sustainable development.

Here is a presentation I did on the book:

Social Advertising
Additional Research

Technology quite clearly plays a significant role in considerations of sustainable transitions. Whether a person identifies as pro or anti technology for visions of the future, it is still a major social and innovative force that needs to be dealt with. Many socio-ecological researchers are doing a good job of looking at either how physical technologies (i.e.: energy production) will or will not sufficiently provide for humanity, and our limits to growth within that. Many are also dealing with the energy expense of technological processing (i.e.: the energetic cost of data). My interests are within two areas that are less travelled by socio-ecological researchers. The first is on the viability and approach for low-tech sustainable futures and the second is on algorithmic co-opting of social behaviour as a barrier to socio-ecological change.

If you want a quick pop-sci introduction to the background of this problem, I highly recommend watching the documentary The Social Dilemma.

I wrote a paper exploring this topic: Paying Attention: Big data and social advertising as barriers to ecological change

Makers and Maker Culture
My daughter at the prepper's house.

My daughter at the prepper's house.

Makers are part of a “third industrial revolution” where individuals take the power of production into their own hands. As my primary PhD research project, I interviewed, ethnographically observed, and surveyed over 150 Makers in Canada – primarily in Southern Ontario and Prince Edward Island.

Me, my partner, and our 4 month old daughter all drove to PEI and stayed with a prepper. We were a 10 minute walk to the beach and a short drive into Charlottetown. We drove all over the island meeting all different kinds of Makers including alpaca farmers, glass shapers, woodworkers, metalsmiths, and more.

published on some of this work in Solutions where I argue that the Makers on PEI demonstrate “how making can become central in a struggling economy” which I highlight in four broad take-home messages:

  1. Making generates community-owned economic structures, resources, and production

  2. Makers create high quality, recycled, and meaningful goods

  3. Making contributes to an economy that supports community

  4. Making contributes to an economy that improves mental health

Me welding for the first time at our powercube workshop.

Me welding for the first time at our powercube workshop.

A Handmade Future

Funded by the Metcalf Foundation I did a project that was a response to the Foundations’ Green Prosperity Challenge. Aiming to support creative, practical activities that reduce pressure on production chains and on the natural environment in southern Ontario while also fostering economic and social well-being.

The study consisted of four workshops – of relevance here is the Powercube workshop run by Open Source Ecology.

In this research, we found that this suggests a need for cascading social-behavioural change combined with:

  • open source business models

  • distributed forms of technical collaboration and design (distributed forms of production and design are now my primary area of individual research)

  • new socio-ecological institutions (such as ecological monetary theory)

  • new cultural framing of the ‘good life’ and redefinitions of success

I published on this in the Journal of Peer Production: FINDING AN ALTERNATE ROUTE: TOWARDS OPEN, ECO-CYCLICAL, AND DISTRIBUTED PRODUCTION

Alternatives Journal Special Issue: Ecological Economics
Check out this great magazine issue I edited all about ecological economics!