Stephen Quilley

Associate director
Steve Quilley at Module May 2014

Stephen Quilley is the Associate director of the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience as well as an associate professor of the School of Environment, Resource and Sustainability in the Department of Environment at the University of Waterloo. 

Trained as a sociologist, Stephen has previously lectured in Environmental Politics at Keele University, (2006-2012) Environmental Sociology at University College Dublin (1999-2005) and held a Research Fellowship at the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Centre for Research on Innovation and Competition (CRIC) in Manchester (1997-1999). With academic research interests ranging from the historical sociology of Norbert Elias and urban regeneration, to the long term dynamics of human ecology, Stephen has also worked on policy-related projects relating to sustainability, urban regeneration, food systems, resilience and social-ecological innovation. Currently his work focuses on:

(i)            Ernest Becker’s theory of ontology and motivation and the irrational drivers of environmental behavior

(ii)            novel ecosystems and the new the role of environmental social scientists as ‘navigators of the anthropocene’

(iii)           the implications of a more communitarian and place-bound form of modern society and the concept of ‘indigenous modernity’

Other current projects include: the political economy and sociology of the Transition Network as a response to peak oil and climate change; theoretical work on energy, civilization and social complexity; and the long term potential of open-source fabrication systems.

Stephen is director of Development for the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation.

Recent publications


Quilley, S (2014) "Ecocultures of Transition: new, traditional and alternative ways of living in the ‘adjacent possible" in Ecocultures: Blueprints for Sustainable Communities by Bohm,S. Bharucha, Z.P., and Pretty, J. (London: Routledge)

Peer reviewed journal articles

Homer-Dixon,T., Leader Maynard, J., Mildenberger4,M., Milkoreit, M., Mock, S., Quilley, S., Schröder,T. and Thagard, P., (2014 forthcoming)  "A complex systems approach to the study of ideology: Cognitive-affective structures and the dynamics of belief systems" Journal of Social and Political Psychology

Quilley S. and Loyal S. (2013) ‘Wittgenstein, Gellner, and Elias: From the Philosophy of Language Games to a Figurational Sociology of Knowledge.’ – Human Figurations. Long Term Perspectives on the Human Condition Vol. 2 (2) July 2013.

Quilley, S (2012) "De-Growth Is Not a Liberal Agenda: Relocalization, and the limits to low energy cosmopolitanism" Environmental Values, 2013 (22), pp. 261-285.

Quilley, S.  (2012). System Innovation and a New ‘Great Transformation’: Re-embedding Economic Life in the Context of ‘De-Growth’. Journal of Social Entrepreneurship3(2), 206-229.

Quilley, S. (2011a), "Entropy, the anthroposphere and the ecology of civilization: An essay on the problem of "liberalism in one village" in the long view". The Sociological Review, 59: 65–90. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2011.01979.x

Quilley,S. (2010b) ‘Integrative Levels and the "Great Evolution": Organicist Biology and the Sociology of Norbert Elias’ –  Journal of Classical Sociology 10(4):1-19

Quilley, S., Dobson A. and Young W. (2010c) ‘Sustainability as Competitive Advantage in Higher Education in the UK’  in  International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development. Vol. 9(4) 2010: 330-348. [DOI:10.1504/IJESD.2010.035612]

Quilley, S. (2009) ‘The Land Ethic as an Ecological Civilizing Process’ Environmental Ethics31(2), 115-134.

Curriculum vitae

Stephen Quilley's C.V.(PDF)