"Making models, telling stories, and changing behaviours toward a more sustainable future" by Prof Ilan Chabay

Past Event

29 May 2012, 1:30pm - 3:00pm

Oxford Union
The Oxford Union, Frewin Court, Oxford, OX1 3JB

This seminar is hosted by the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society

Summary: Humanity faces a daunting array of challenges due to the increasingly rapid global changes. There are great challenges in understanding the nature and origin of the changes in the bio-geo-physical system of Earth at multiple temporal and spatial scales and developing measures to mitigate and adapt to them. Understanding, developing, and implementing policy and practices that move society on a path toward sustainability by learning to address the complexity of the social-economic-ecological system is equally difficult.

This talk will focus on three related aspects of the latter, societal challenge. One is analytical and cognitive, i.e. improving the understanding and use of models by policy makers and the public. The second is affective and motivational - creating new visions and expressing new narratives of a path toward sustainability rooted in the models. This will require catalysing innovative collaborations between natural and social scientists, philosophers, historians, and artists. And the third addresses how knowledge and learning from models and their stories relate to individual and collective changes in behavior in diverse communities.

Speaker: Professor Ilan Chabay, Senior Fellow, Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany and in the Department of Sociology and Technology Assessment, University of Stuttgart.

Biography: Ilan was the Hasselblad Chair in public learning and understanding of science for a sustainable future at Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden from 2006-2011.

In Ilan’s earlier career, he was research scientist at the US National Institutes of Standards and Technology conducting research in laser spectroscopy, associate director of the Exploratorium science center in San Francisco, and professor of chemistry at Stanford University. He founded and for 18 years ran a unique company in Silicon Valley designing science learning experiences for more than 230 museums worldwide.

He is conducting transdisciplinary research on how knowledge on science, technology, and society is produced, understood, and used by different actors and communities. He chairs a newly approved international 10-year research alliance on the levers and mechanisms of societal change through knowledge and learning.

In 2012 Ilan was awarded honorary membership in the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences 'in recognition of his manifold contributions to innovative forms of public understanding of science as well as teaching and learning.”

Please bring your own lunch