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Green Christmas Lecture - Knowledge and a Transforming World
6th Dec 2018 18:00 – 19:00
Humanity and the planet are entering a period of major, transformative change in economies, political power, human-environment relationships and technology. Whether for the good or for the bad, transformation of society in some way is inevitable. Humanity has therefore no option other than to try and find ways to help steward such transformations towards more equitable and sustainable futures.
Science and knowledge have an important role to play in this process. Yet so far, science and research is arguably failing humanity when its impact is measured against the level of progress being made towards addressing burgeoning global environmental and social crises. Further, for all its brilliant success, science and technology, have led to many of the problems to which transformative responses are now needed, including climate change, obesity, smoking, mental health, plastics in the oceans and premature deaths from air pollution. This raises important questions about the kinds of knowledge and learning needed for, and in, a transforming world.
This Christmas lecture explores these issues, including briefly outlining the origins of scientific thinking and the challenges that have emerged, including the limits of current approaches to knowledge and research in being able to address the problems that science and technology have also produced. Examples will be used to highlight the need for new thinking for the 21 st Century, such as in Louisiana where communities are already on the move due to growing impact of sea level rise and where policy professionals are questioning the kinds of governance needed to support inevitable change. New and radical thinking is also required, such as recent work in Bangladesh which has led to the building of resilient floating homes. A key issue is then how new ways of thinking and solutions can be developed, which in turn raises questions about whether the formal ways knowledge is produced, such as that produced in Universities and research institutes, is fit for purpose in a world of major change. Key for this is to find ways to emancipate learning and unleash a new era of creativity that not only produces knowledge about the nature of bio-physical and social phenomena but also leads the development of wisdom about how to act in the world. Overall, this lecture is timely for a Christmas season of both celebration and reflection as it seeks to stimulate thinking about how current ways of thinking about knowledge, knowing and learning has resulted in many benefits for many people but also how such thinking may also need to change to help achieve more equitable and sustainable futures.
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