The International Council
for Philosophy and Human Sciences

ISSC-CIPSH Joint Scientific Symposium 2010

Changing Nature – Changing Sciences?
The challenges of global environmental change researchfor the social sciences and humanities
13-14 December 2010 Nagoya, Japan

  Human behaviour, values and responses to knowledge and impacts of climate and otherforms of global environmental change will largely define the world's future. The socialsciences and the humanities can and must serve as a cornerstone for shaping suchresponses in a way that is fair and meaningful for people from all corners of the planet.

  The aim of this symposium is to assist in the mobilization of a broader and stronger socialand human sciences response to the growing demands of environmental change. Bymobilization we mean both the need to bring to the debate tools and perspectives ofscholars from the humanities and the social sciences, even if they have not previouslyworked on sustainability and environmental issues, as well as the need to raiseawareness of the fundamental importance of integrating those areas of research andknowledge in order to address environmental change. The meeting seeks to engagescholars in the process of identifying and framing future social sciences and humanitieschallenges and priorities in the field of global environmental change or globalsustainability research. It will give special attention to the views and needs of Africa, Asiaand Latin America and focus on the possible positive feedbacks and synergies for thesciences to reframe the debate on climate change towards constructing fair as well assustainable futuresAt the international level there is now growing recognition of the need for newapproaches in global environmental change research and of the fact that significantadvances depend on a new level of inclusion and prominence for the social sciences andhumanities in the production of knowledge about global environmental change, bothindependently and in collaboration with the physical, biological and environmentalsciences. Such a new approach would entail a deeper integration of the social sciences,the humanities and the other sciences. A range of opportunities are emerging that enableour disciplines and Councils to take a more active and leadership role in developing suchan approach.

  Excellent social and human science is essential for effective and progressive action byscientists, businesses, publics, consumers and policy makers in the face of multiplestressors and inter-related environmental changes at local, national, regional andinternational levels. The social sciences and humanities provide theory, concepts, tools,narratives and models by which to understand how global environmental processesvariously impact and are impacted by human behaviour; how they are mediated bycomplex, overlapping economic, socio-cultural, technological and political institutions;how public policies are decided and implemented at various levels of government; howthese have consequences for human development and basic needs for security for all;what the role of values, norms, and culture are in these process; and what key ethicalchallenges they raise. Such analyses explore what kind of theoretical legitimacyunderpins the different concepts involved in research on global environmental changeand, last but not least, how our civilizations and cultures have reacted to similarphenomena in the course of their history. Finally, the social sciences and humanitiesenable a better understanding of the nature of the choices members of societies are facingas citizens, producers and consumers at multiple scales of decision-making, from the levelof the narrowly local to that of nation-states, regions and globally.

  The focus of the Nagoya symposium will be to further stimulate and advance debateabout the social sciences and humanities contributions, challenges, and capacities toadvance global environmental change research. The symposium will be jointly organizedby the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the Council for Philosophy andHumanistic Studies (CIPSH), and should take into account the work being done by theInternational Council for Science, the Belmont Forum (i.e. the Council of Principals of theInternational Group of Funding Agencies for Global Change Research), the EuropeanScience Foundation (ESF) and other bodies concerned by future challenges of andstrategies for global sustainability research.

  The symposium will draw together the work of ISSC programmes in this area i.e. IHDP, IRDRand CROP (programmes that have strong partnerships with scholars and institutions in themajority world) and will explore the substantive and methodological issues andepistemological assumptions of the notion of “global sustainability” that arise as efforts aremade to meet the challenge of working across the sciences and the north-south divide in a moreintegrated way. It will also highlight current important social science and humanitiesknowledge gaps and priorities and how these best can be addressed. The symposium willexamine issues of sustainability related to processes of globalisation, inequality, migration,food security, economic growth and development, cultural diversity, human rights, and socialjustice. These will be viewed with regard to factors likely to shape the future: from thechallenge of addressing the linked issues of eradicating poverty and managing climate change,to population and migration change, to new technologies, demographic change, societalpreferences and attitudes, the policy and regulatory frameworks and forms of governance. Thesymposium will also address the issues of scale, including opportunities for intervention atboth the micro and macro level. Finally, it will consider the ethical dimensions of globalenvironmental change, as well as the interrelations between science, power and politics thatcan help us understand and overcome societal inaction despite the growing scientific evidenceabout global environmental change and consumption patterns that threaten to underminehuman well-being, development goals, and the preservation of planetary life-supporting systems.


  Article Source : ISSC-CIPSH
December 12, 2010