Theme of the conference – University of Copenhagen

NESS 2013 > Theme of the conference

Welcome to the Anthropocene


Welcome to the Anthropocene!

Copenhagen, 11-13 June 2013

The environment changes – so do our perceptions of the environment

We live in a time where human behavior does significantly affect the local and global environment (era of anthropocene1). We see the consequences in the shape of a hitherto unseen wealth of material goods, but also in the shape of climate change, and significantly modified natural resources, from biodiversity to minerals, from sea to land environments.  Together with technology innovations, and increasing scientific insights, these environmental changes have altered the very way we as a species perceive the environment and ourselves in relation to the environment. 

Social science - the new quick fix?

Social science plays a central role in understanding the dynamics of human-nature interaction both with regard to how we view the environment and our own role in relation to it as well as with regard to understanding the way societies respond or do not respond to environmental changes. With this also follows ever increasing expectations for social science to present the quick fixes to manage the social-environmental challenges we are facing, to minimize environmental damage and social conflict. In other words, social science has been given the role of change agent. 

Old problems require new thinking

The way we respond to environmental problems depends on the very way we think of what the problem is, i.e. how we perceive the relation between society and the environment and what we perceive as a desirable future. Einstein suggested that we cannot solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. This means that we should not only challenge the assumptions underlying society today, but also the very social theories we use to explore environment-society relations with. 

Welcome to NESS 2013!

In thematic working groups, and with the help from prominent key note speakers, we explore the many dimensions of society-environment interaction - to possibly get beyond traditional thinking and suggest new approaches to social science research on the environment.

With this conference, we warmly invite researchers from all social science disciplines and paradigms to present their newest research related to aspects of social and environmental change and their interaction!

1 * cf. the Economist 26/5/11