DIIS – Deep Institutional Innovation for Sustainability and Human Development, Phase 1

Start Year

June 2020

End Year

December 2020

Funding Body

MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine

Research Area

Energy Policy and Modelling

Project Partners

Burgenland, Austria/Humanistic Management Network, and the OECD New Approaches to Economic Challenges Unit, Paris, Markus Glatz-Schmallegger, William Hynes

Principal Investigtor

Dr Clodagh Harris, Department of Government and Politics, University College Cork, Ireland.

Senior Research Fellow

Dr Ian Hughes, MaREI, University College Cork, Ireland

Research Team

Prof Edmond Byrne, School of Engineering, University College Cork

Dr. Kieran Keohane, School of Society, Politics and Ethics, University College Cork

Prof Brian Ó Gallachóir, School of Engineering, University College Cork

Prof. John Barry, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast


Dr Ian Hughes



Phase 1 of the Deep Institutional Innovation for Sustainability and Human Development (DIIS) project aims to lay the foundations for a critique and reimagining of the major social institutions in society – economics, democracy, religion, technology, gender and higher education – and the development of principles, visions, and imaginaries for guiding the coming transformations.

We are at a moment of deep institutional breakdown. Climate change, environmental degradation and a biodiversity crisis, marked increases in inequality, economic crises, the rise of populism, and rising geo-political tensions have been providing clear evidence that current social institutions are not optimal, either for human flourishing or for addressing global challenges. The global coronavirus pandemic has brought this dangerous reality into even starker relief.

This historic moment of deep transformational crisis requires not only fundamental innovations in all the major social institutions that make up society, it requires new imaginaries to guide the direction of those transformations.

Phase 1 of the DIIS project will comprise a 6 months initiation phase covering 4 elements:

  1. The development of an academic paper which develops the theoretical foundations for the project
  2. Public engagement with diverse publics, including societal leaders, academics, policymakers, activists, the general public, through a series of blogs and online videos
  3. An online webinar in June 2020 to engage diverse participants covering three themes – Understanding Deep Transition; Reimagining Political Economy; and Sustainability After the Pandemic
  4. Longer-term planning and the development of a funding proposal for Phase 2 which will cover a 3-5 year timeline for DIIS.



DIIS webinar 'Ideas that can change our lives' and post event Q&A booklet




You can read the post-event Q&A booklet here: DIIS Q&A




Policy Brief: Policy Evaluation in Ireland in the 21st Century – An Evolving Landscape

IST Conference

DIIS & New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) Paper

President Michael D. Higgins, highlighted research by the DIIS project in MaREI

President Michael D. Higgins applauds DIIS efforts in highlighting the current failings of the fundamental institutions that societies have relied upon for decades for stability and direction

DIIS presents at the Scenarios Forum in Vienna, June 2022

DIIS presents poster on Whole-of-Society Transformation at European Climate Change Adaptation Conference ECCA 2023

DIIS - ECCA Poster

View in full here.