Changing Global Environments – World Social Science Report 2013

Global warming is more about people than carbon emissions, argues 2013 World Social Science Report

 The new edition of the World Social Science Report emphasizing the social sciences’ indispensable contribution to human survival in the face of climate change, has been launched on 15 November at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. To read the full report click here.

Published by UNESCO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the Report, entitled Changing Global Environments, features articles by more than 150 leading experts from all over the world and represents the full gamut of social science subjects: anthropology, economics, development studies, geography, political science, psychology, and sociology. The argument that underpins the 600-page volume is that people, human behaviour and societies need to be at the heart of all attempts to tackle the challenges of environmental change and phenomena studied by the natural sciences.

The work takes stock of the unprecedented and staggering environmental challenges facing society and their potentially devastating consequences on the well-being of people all over the world. Global environmental change impacts everything for everyone on this planet: life support systems, livelihoods, ways of life, actions and interactions. Problems encountered by individuals and communities struggling with social, economic and political crises, persistent poverty, increasing inequalities and social discontent, are already exacerbated by environmental change.

The contribution of the Humanities

The report includes an article on the contribution of the Environmental Humanities to global environmental change by Prof. Rosi Braidotti (Utrecht University, founding board member of the European Consortium for Humanities Institutes and Centres (ECHIC). This article is co-signed by Prof. Poul Holm (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, Chair ECHIC), Prof. Hsuing Ping-Chen (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Prof. Kum-Kum Bhavnani (University of California – Santa Barbara). To read the article click here.

Call for collaboration

Other articles bring to the fore the need to draw on the social sciences to bring about the economic and behavioural changes required to achieve sustainability. To this end, the Report issues an urgent call for action to the international scientific community. Social scientists need to collaborate more effectively with colleagues from the natural, human and engineering sciences to deliver knowledge that can help address the most pressing of today’s environmental problems and sustainability challenges. And they need to do so in close collaboration with decision-makers, practitioners and the other users of their research.

The report concludes that clearly a new—bolder, better, bigger and different—approach to social science is needed:

·  Bold enough to reframe and reinterpret global environmental change as a fundamentally social process;

·  Better in terms of incorporating social science insights into problem-solving;

·  Bigger in terms of the need for more social scientists to address the challenges of global environmental change;

·   Different by changing the way the social sciences view and practice science—its theories, assumptions, methodologies, institutions, norms and incentives—to help meet the complex interdisciplinary and cross-sector challenges facing us.

 

 

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