SSRN Q&A: John Peters (GSE Research)

Sustainability is one of the hottest areas of scholarly research, and SSRN’s newest research network. GSE Research sponsors our Sustainability Research Policy Network. I’ve known its founder John Peters for a few years and recently caught up with him to ask a few questions about the what, how, and why of sustainability and working with SSRN.

Q: Tell us about yourself & GSE Research I am the founder and Chief Executive of GSE Research. My background is inconsultancy, publishing and higher education. Until the end of 2010 I was CEO of Emerald Group Publishing and Emerald Inc but felt by then that I really wanted to embark on a new challenge, one with a focus on the issues I believe matter most to the world today. I started GSE Research early in 2011 as a scholarly publisher with a philosophy of inclusivity and integrity. The focus is clear: Governance, Sustainability and Environment – the key areas in which we need more and better research in order to overcome the crises currently facing the planet. I try to keep connected with higher education, and have visiting roles with two UK universities. Q: Why did you choose to focus on sustainability? We need to learn to live and work sustainably if we are to survive as a species. With over 7 billion people alive on the planet, the challenges of feeding, housing, educating and employing them are intense. The pressure on resources – natural, economic and social – is unprecedented and it will take massive commitments of time, money and ingenuity to relieve some of that pressure. But I’m a natural optimist and I have real faith in the ability of intelligent people, with sufficient good will and determination, to solve the most difficult problems and to give humanity (and the planet we depend on) a viable long-term future. Q: What is sustainability research? A question with probably as many answers as there are researchers in the field! For me sustainability research is research which looks for solutions to some of the problems I’ve alluded to before: research into alternative energy sources; into recycling and waste management; into establishing social and organisational structures free from the corruption that keeps so much of the world in poverty. There are many of the world’s smartest people working in the world’s universities, and I believe part of the role of a publisher today is to connect that research with policymakers and practitioners. Q: How does it impact the world? Profoundly! This stuff matters – probably more than anything else at this moment in history. We have to solve the world’s biggest and most intractable problems – not just for today or tomorrow but for the long term. If the smartest, best educated people we have aren’t focusing their minds on making that happen, then what are they doing? Q: You are a successful publisher, why partner with SSRN? GSE’s publishing philosophy is very close to that of SSRN and we believe that real synergy is possible between the two organisations. Like SSRN, we want to encourage the profusion and promulgation of ideas. We share a belief that publication shouldn’t be solely about the final output of a shiny academic paper, which has taken three years to see the light of day, but should include the opportunity to bring ideas into the public domain in order to engage in debate and discussion to strengthen those ideas and to allow others to use them, sooner rather than later, in order to find the next phase of solutions to our problems. We are delighted to be publishing the SRPN in partnership with SSRN as part of our commitment to innovation in publishing and scholarship in this area.

Thanks John, we are excited to be working with you!