Forthcoming Conference Addresses Climate Change and Social Change

by Nahema Marchal
(New York City)

There is no issue more urgent than climate change, yet government, corporations, and the public are reluctant to change.

A forthcoming conference from the Center for Public Scholarship at The New School on "Climate Change Demands We Change. Why Aren’t We?", April 24 and 25, 2014, will examine the psychological factors, money and politics, and infrastructures that impede change as well as the difficult choices that must be made to foster urban resilience in the face of climate change.

Ignoring the Consensus

Most leading climate organizations worldwide, and almost the totality of the scientific community, agrees that climate-warning trends over the past century are due to human activities, so what is stopping us from taking action?

While a great deal of research has been devoted to issues of engineering, architecture, land use, etc., as ways of mitigating the effects of climate change, very little attention has been paid to the ways psychological factors might hinder concrete solutions.

Challenges Ahead

If political inertia in the face of this unprecedented threat is certainly one of the most fundamental challenges ahead, it is inseparable from other concerns: How can we best communicate the message to the public in order to foster societal action?

What are the ethical challenges raised by adaptive environmental solutions?

Moreover, what place does divestment, innovative financing and corporate sustainability should have in the devising of policies?

Experts from Various Fields

This conference will bring together experts from a wide variety of fields - from philosophy to environmental engineering - to critically engage with these questions.

We aim to make clear how these factors can be overcome and identify areas in which more research is needed.

People Involved

This will be the 31st in our Social Research conference series, which is dedicated to enhancing public understanding of pressing social issues as a way of influencing public policy.

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, will deliver the keynote address at 6:00pm on Thursday, April 24.

Among the sixteen other speakers are Robert Inglis, former senator and founder of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative; Guy Nordenson, structural engineer and advisor on MoMA's Rising Currents show; Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences at Princeton University; Elke Weber, professor of international affairs at Columbia University; and Paul Stern, director of the Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change at the National Academies of Science.

Coalition to Confront Climate Change Challenges in Cities

It will also publicly launch C6, the Coalition to Confront Climate Change a collaboration between New School faculty and students of all divisions and departments to initiate cross-disciplinary activities that support climate change mitigation and urban resilience.

C6 will continue the work of the conference by focusing its efforts on the areas of research identified by the conference as requiring further exploration. This work will involve both students and faculty and The New School.

You can review the complete conference program and read speakers’ bios on our website. Register for the conference.

The Center for Public Scholarship

Launched in 2010, the Center for Public Scholarship is intended to be an intellectual crossroads for academics, students, the public, and policy-makers, bringing the best scholarship to bear on critical and contested issues, a mission rooted in the founding history and ideals of The New School.

Under the direction of Dr. Arien Mack, Alfred and Monette Marrow Professor of Psychology and editor of Social Research: An International Quarterly Social Research: An International Quarterly since 1970, the Center unites a number of initiatives by drawing on their demonstrated strengths to provide a foundation for new programming.

All presentations delivered at each conference in the series are adapted for publication in a special issue of Social Research, which has more than 1,000 readers in more than 50 countries around the world.

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