The Climate of History in a Planteary Age
Neubauer Collegium, The University of Chicago
Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College
In conversation with:
- Elizabeth Chatterjee, Assistant Professor of Environmental History and the College
- Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, Associate Professor, Department of History and the College
- Emily Lynn Osborn, Associate Professor of African History, African Studies, and the College
“The idea of anthropogenic and planetary climate change does not face much academic challenge these days, but the idea of the Anthropocene has been much debated by both scientists and humanist scholars,” Dipesh Chakrabarty writes in his new book, The Climate of History in a Planetary Age (University of Chicago Press, 2021). To fully understand the present moment, he argues, we must make a conceptual shift in the way we orient ourselves to both the global, a human-centric construction, and to “a new historical-philosophical entity called the planet,” which intentionally decenters the human. At this event, Chakrabarty will join a panel of scholars at the forefront of exploring the implications of the Anthropocene framework for historical research to consider how climate change upends long-standing ideas of history, modernity, and globalization.
This event is co-sponsored by the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, the Seminary Co-op Bookstores, and the University of Chicago Press, and organized as part of the University of Chicago’s Environmental Research and Sustainability initiative.
April 21-23 2021 — Online
Climate Injustice is an online academic conference that brings together an audience from around the globe to reflect on individual responsibility in the face of climate change. The conference is groundbreaking both because of its under-theorized theme and because of its revolutionary format.
We conduct our lives within institutions that may be destroying civilization as we know it. We know the mechanism through which we are doing this, and our voluntary actions contribute to it. Global structural responses are slow and uncertain. Individual responses suffer from uncertainty and inefficacy. And yet to suppose that individuals need do nothing, while governments dither, seems preposterous. What, then, should individuals do? How does the climate-related injustice of our institutions implicate us? How should we – as individuals or as members of states, social groups, or associations – conduct ourselves in light of it? That is the problem, broadly speaking, that this conference seeks to address.
The conference, encompassing Earth Day 2020, is a “rolling” 36-hour online event, continuing across all time zones and bringing together speakers and discussants from all inhabited continents. Conducted entirely online, the conference minimizes participation barriers and aims to be inclusive of a genuinely global set of perspectives on this urgent problem. Unlike in-person conferences, presentations and discussions will be archived so that they can be accessed in perpetuity. The format also eliminates the climate-altering emissions associated with conference travel.
The conference will feature eight plenary speakers from around the world. Each plenary will have a commentator, whose brief reflections on the paper will be followed by a Q&A session open to all participants.
Spring 2021 Speaker Series
Prospects for Sustainable Peace
at the Nexus of
Race, Gender, and the Climate Crisis
Thursday, March 11, 2021
4:00-6:00 PM (ET): Lecture plus Q & A
Black Feminist Ecological Perspectives
Francis Roberts-Gregory, Future Faculty Fellow, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University
Tiya Miles, Professor, Department of History, Harvard University
Kishi Ducre, Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Associate Professor, Department of African American Studies, Syracuse University
Location: Zoom Webinar
Thursday, April 1, 2021
4:00-6:00 PM (ET): Lecture plus Q & A
Gender, Race and Climate Justice:
National and Global Policy Perspectives
Colette Pichon Battle, Executive Director, Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy
Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network International
Anita Nayar, Director, Regions Refocus
Location: Zoom Webinar
Thursday, April 8, 2021
4:00-6:00 PM (ET): Lecture plus Q & A
The Climate Crisis, Gender
and the Prospects for Sustainable Peace
Babette Resurrección, Queen’s National Scholar in Development in Practice, Queen’s University
Kavita Naidu, International Human Rights Lawyer and Consultant at Edith Cowan University
Location: Zoom Webinar
Thursday, April 15, 2021
9:30-11:30 AM (ET): Lecture plus Q & A
New Economic Paradigms for Peace and the Planet: Intersectional Feminist Perspectives
Smita Ramnarain, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Rhode Island
Corinna Dengler, Senior Lecturer, Global Political Economy and Development Master’s Program, University of Vechta
Patricia (Ellie) Perkins, Professor, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, York University
Lebohang Liepollo Pheko, Senior Research Fellow, Trade Collective
Location: Zoom Webinar
This conference aims to combine theoretical research presentations with discussions of academic practice and institutional organization, while modeling innovation in e-conferencing format. Our main themes are:
(I) Moral and political responses to climate change: challenges pertaining to climate justice, inequality, indigenous rights, migration, individual responsibility, responses to disaster and emergency
(II) The role and responsibility of philosophers in research, teaching and course design, service, and in the public domain: effective teaching about climate change, sustainable practices within philosophy, public philosophy, and the role of philosophers in on- and off-campus advocacy
Online interaction is a key response both to the COVID-19 pandemic and to climate change. Many philosophers are struggling now to interact well online with each other and with students, and an adequate response to climate change will require us to do more to make online interaction successful and sustainable, even without a pandemic. We are excited to announce this month’s Sustainability in Philosophy Forum on Building Community Online, to be held on Zoom on Monday, January 25, 12:30-2pm EST — a forum for participants to share strategies, successes, challenges, games, and other ideas about building community in online interaction, both synchronously and asynchronously. We’ll include some discussion of teaching, of online conferences, and of advocating for online formats. Feel free to bring useful resources to share with others, and/or to email them to us in advance.
July 6th-9th, 2020 — H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Blue River, Oregon, USA
CFP: Technology and the Future of the Home
Keynote Speaker: Diane Michelfelder, Macalester College
Research on how we conceptualize the home is increasing across the academy. However, studies about how technology challenges our conceptualization of the home require focus. The purpose of this colloquium is to develop and advance such conversations. Although submissions that interpret the home are welcome, abstracts focused on guiding its development to create a better world are highly encouraged. All disciplinary backgrounds and approaches are welcome. The scope of topics is open, but some motivational lines of inquiry include how the future of the home intersects with the following areas:
IoT in the Home
Zoning and Regulations
The Home as an Ecosystem
Challenges to Existing Infrastructure
Generational Differences and Challenges
Cohousing, Ecovillages and Intentional Communities
There is no registration fee. Upload anonymized abstracts of 250-350 words by June 15, 2020: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=tfh2020
While participation in the event does not guarantee publication, participants can submit revised versions of their papers to a special issue of the Journal of Sociotechnical Critique, subject to peer review and alignment with the aims and scope of the journal. Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org
Brought to you with support from the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Missouri University of Science and Technology, Journal of Sociotechnical Critique, Center for Environmental Philosophy at the University of North Texas, Philosophy of the City Research Group, and the Interdisciplinary Environmental Association.
CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: Submission Deadline — October 31st, 2020
Climate change presents a major challenge for our time. It is expected to greatly increase global temperatures, “natural” disasters, political instability, war, disease, drought, and famine in this century. Its impacts are far-reaching and distributed unequally. In this conference, we aim to make progress toward addressing climate change, both by addressing the philosophical challenges it raises, and by working together to encourage sustainable practices in teaching, research, administration, advocacy, and community engagement.
To keep the conference sustainable, accessible, and low cost, the conference will be held virtually via Zoom. We will have keynote sessions with Marion Hourdequin and Kyle Whyte with live Q&A. Other talks will be organized into live panels of three speakers each. These panels will include a pre-read (5000 word maximum) and/or pre-watched talk (20 minute maximum) in advance of the live panel. Each live panel will include a separate Q&A for each talk, followed by time for general discussion. The conference will also include additional informal discussion time as well as moderated forum discussions without presenters.
Possible subjects of submissions include, but are not limited to:
(I) Moral and political responses to climate change: issues of climate justice, inequality, human rights, indigenous rights, climate colonialism, environmental racism, degrowth, migration, responses to disaster and emergency, adaptation and resilience, and individual responsibility.
(II) The role and responsibility of philosophers: sustainable practices within philosophy, effective teaching about climate change, public philosophy, and the role of philosophers in on- and off-campus advocacy
Please submit anonymized abstracts of no more than 1000 words to email@example.com, by October 31, 2020, with “Conference submission” in the subject line. In your email, please include your contact information and your preference of conference format: pre-read (5000 word maximum), pre-watch (20-minute maximum), or both pre-read and pre-watch.
Acceptance decisions will be made by December 1. All accepted participants will be required to submit their talk and/or paper by April 1, and then attend their live panel during the conference dates.
We especially welcome submissions from indigenous philosophers, philosophers of color, women, younger philosophers, philosophers outside North America and Europe, and members of other frontline populations disproportionately impacted by climate change.
September 21-22, 2020 — New York, NY USA
Conference Website: https://ic-sd.org/
The International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD) provides a forum for academia, government, civil society, UN agencies, and the private sector to come together to share practical solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In 2013, an ocean away from New York, a meeting was held in Dakar, Senegal, to find solutions to the complex challenges of sustainable development. Participants felt that a larger conference was needed to bring others into the dialogue, and thus in an auditorium at Université Cheikh Anta Diop, it was decided that the Global Association of Master’s in Development Practice programs would partner with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network to launch the first ICSD. The first ICSD took place in September 2013, followed by conferences in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Soon it was time for the 8th ICSD, hosted in New York City by The Earth Institute, Columbia University, and their Center for Sustainable Development.
Professor Jeffrey Sachs says it best:
This year’s International Conference on Sustainable Development will be the most important and historic yet! Not only will the science and policy be at the cutting edge; the conference will take place on multiple campuses around the world, making it a truly global event. ICSD will host students from around the world, top scientists, and world leaders from politics to government to the UN. I urge everybody interested in sustainable development – the great challenge of our age – to come to ICSD. Alas, space is limited, but we’ll pack in all that we can!
Who is in the Audience?
ICSD brings together professionals from the private sector, academia, government, and civil society, along with students from the world’s top universities. We welcome participants from all sectors and experience levels. Simply register and help us reach our target of 1,000!
About the Organizers
The Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) mobilizes the scientific expertise of the Earth Institute to create tools and research that shape new solutions to the challenges of sustainable development, and to provide policy support – as requested by governments and development organizations – to address these challenges in the context of a global society.
The Earth Institute, Columbia University, brings together the people and tools needed to address some of the world’s most difficult problems, from climate change and environmental degradation, to poverty, disease and the sustainable use of resources.
The Global Master’s in Development Practice (MDP), an interdisciplinary graduate degree program, prepares students to better identify and address the challenges of sustainable development. MDP programs generally consist of two years of coursework in four intersecting disciplines—health, natural, social, and management sciences–combined with cross-sectoral field training.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) aims to accelerate joint learning and help to overcome the compartmentalization of technical and policy work by promoting integrated approaches to the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world. The SDSN works closely with United Nations agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society.
Climate Week NYC (September 21-27, 2020) is biggest climate summit taking place this year. As the focus shifts to how we rebuild after COVID-19, Climate Week NYC 2020 will explore what lessons we can learn in the pursuit of a net-zero future through just transition.
Our “For New York, for the World” approach is crucial to put people at the heart of climate action and build a better future. We must rebuild the global economy for people and planet, and we must halve global emissions by the end of this decade.
The Climate Group will host all our events, including the Opening Ceremony and the Hub Live, on an online digital platform that will incorporate live broadcast, interactive sessions, networking areas and meeting space. We will also support the hundreds of events hosted across New York City and around the world as part of the official Climate Week NYC events program.
Climate Week NYC is hosted in association with the United Nations and the City of New York.
Monday, September 21st, 2020, 11:30am–1:00pm (Eastern USA/Canada time)
We will meet old and new Philosophers for Sustainability members and have a brief chance to catch up. We’ll have some updates on our most recent projects: a spring conference we are planning, combining theoretical discussions of climate change and climate justice with work on shifting our field toward sustainable practices; a blog series; our monthly Zoom forum series; and various advocacy projects, including efforts to use our sustainability guidelines, recently adopted by the American Philosophical Association, to advocate for sustainable practices in philosophy worldwide. We’ll all hear from each other about our current projects and interests. And we’ll do some strategic planning together for the coming year, to continue shifting our field and the world around us toward an effective response to climate change, while keeping our activities rewarding and manageable. All interested philosophers are welcome; please forward this announcement to any and all departments, faculty, graduate students, and non-academic philosophers you might want to invite, whether or not you can make it yourself! We’ve had enough crises; we need as many people in our field as possible working toward sustainability in practice.
The kickoff will be on the first day of Climate Week NYC, this year’s biggest climate summit. Its large offering of events (full program here) includes a series of workshops by Sustaining All Life / United to End Racism on race, oppression, climate grief, listening skills, and sustaining ourselves as activists, among other topics. A separate Global Climate Change Week is coming up in October. Meanwhile, we’ll be planning this year’s Sustainability in Philosophy forum series, including forums on racial justice, on political action, and on building community online. Please feel free to write to us with ideas for future forums.
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions on how to join the meeting.
July 6-9, 2020
H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Blue River, Oregon
This call for papers solicits 500-word proposals for presentations on any topic in environmental philosophy. However, special attention will be given to proposals for talks concerning issues connected with first-order normative claims, initiatives, and action in response to the range of environmental threats connected to climate change, biodiversity loss, mass extinction, pollution, and ecosystem degradation.
An escalating rhetoric of a “crisis” or “emergency” has accompanied an increase of public awareness about harmful climate impacts and degraded environmental conditions. With some regularity, we hear that observed phenomena either meet or exceed the worst-case scenarios within a suite of possible trajectories. Predicted changes in the natural world are unfolding more rapidly than expected, e.g. loss of Arctic ice, and international pledges to act are simply not being met, as global GHG emissions continue to grow. Empirical studies reveal surprising and deeply troubling information about, for example, the collapse of insect and bird populations, while some powerful right-wing and authoritarian political leaders only exacerbate the problems, e.g. Trump’s withdraw from the Paris Agreement and Bolsonaro’s policies of deforestation and development in the Amazon.
In response, there has been growing youth-led, political engagement, exemplified by the international school strikes for climate action and the U.S. Sunrise Movement, as well as a return to non-violent direct action (e.g., by Extinction Rebellion in the UK). One widespread refrain asserts we have only 12 years to radically transform society, which calls for a mobilization equivalent to those made to fight world wars. How should we think about that? While environmental philosophy has traditionally focused on theory, concepts, and ideological frameworks (e.g. conceptions of intrinsic value, anthropocentrism, and environmental justice), the theme of this conference is to focus on praxis, conduct, behavior, and concrete action: How can philosophy help us understand and engage with conditions that call us to action? How can we do activism well in the climate arena, both strategically and ethically? What will future generations, in retrospect, think we should be doing today?
July 6th-9th, 2020 — Universite Laval, Quebec, Canada
In July 2020, Université Laval in Québec city, Canada will host the International Student Summit on Climate. A world first, the UniC2020 Summit will bring together some 300 university students and recent graduates from around the world, selected for their commitment to climate action. Participants will not only have the opportunity to network and share ideas, but also to collaborate on concrete initiatives through the future International Student Climate Network.
The UniC2020 Summit will be a distinctive event insofar as the programming is structured around five main dimensions of university student life. Each will be explored in relation to climate transition and climate action issues, from a perspective of global sustainability. And each will be approached in a transversal way, including as it pertains to indigenous knowledge, the taking into account of marginalized people, etc.
DIGITAL CONFERENCE, June 2020, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Norway (virtual event, LINKS remain open)
The aim of this conference is to show how many scientific controversies concerning sustainability come down to different philosophical biases in scientific theory, methods, models and norms. The talks will fall into four thematic sessions: Sustainable food production and food systems; Climate change and adaption; Digitalisation and policy; Social responsibility and rational decision-making.
Research and practice for a sustainable future require that we synchronise efforts from multiple fronts. Experts from different fields must think, evaluate and act as a team. For this, we need a common academic culture and to speak a common language. And yet, it is hard to find a topic on sustainability that is free from scientific controversy: food production and consumption, GMOs, solar panels, nudging, fish farming, electric cars, etc.
Any discipline is situated within a paradigm where the scientific framework is set: theories, concepts, methods, research agenda, etc. Some academic cultures are very explicit about what is ‘allowed’ or ‘accepted’ practice, while in others it will be more difficult to discover the boundaries before stepping over them.
The aim of the event is to show how philosophical biases (basic implicit assumptions in science) can influence theory, models, methodological choices, evidence evaluation, predictions and interpretation of results, by looking at some real-life cases of scientific disagreements.
The speakers will present concrete examples and cases where philosophical biases (conceptual, epistemological, ethical or ontological) play an important role in scientific controversies. (See ‘Philosophical bias is the one bias that science cannot avoid’ for other examples.)
This conference is part of a pilot teaching course, Interdisciplinarity and Expert Disagreement in Sustainability Research, at NMBU, develped and taught by Rani and Elena.
On Wednesday-Friday, April 22-24, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day will be marked with major online events, including many local events around the world, to bring people together and offer direction and purpose in the fight against climate change. These are held largely by and for young people, and are a great thing to include in long days at home with children! You can find an overview and a global event map here. You might also be interested in the We Don’t Have Time Climate Conference and other Earth Day Week events.
Thursday, April 16th, 10:30am-12pm EDT
This is a time of many adjustments, some of them fruitful, others just difficult. We had been planning to build support for sustainable practices across philosophy by organizing a coordinated wave of local events on sustainability throughout our members’ countries. Those events now have to wait, at least in person, though we will pick up that project as soon as it seems doable.
In the meantime, we thought it might be helpful to have a Forum on Handling Emergencies, on Thursday, April 16, to talk through struggles and strategies for handling multiple global crises at the same time. We have students in crisis, we are panicked and/or slowed down ourselves, we’re transitioning to new formats, and whatever happens with the coronavirus, climate change is still getting worse. There is every reason to collaborate, stick together, and learn from each other. We propose that those of us who are able and interested get together to consider questions like these:
- What are we, our colleagues, and our students going through? How does a global emergency affect our work, or vice versa? What lessons can we learn this year?
- What kinds of responses can effectively address COVID-19 and the climate crisis at the same time, without allowing one to make us forget the other?
- How can we make room for personal experiences of emergency in the classroom and in writing? In what ways, if any, should we help people temporarily put those experiences aside to focus on other philosophical issues?
- How can we set a good tone as teachers and writers? What are good sources of humor about climate change and the coronavirus?
- What kinds of online interaction strategies and other resources are helpful for philosophers and philosophy students in a state of emergency?
You can join for just part of the time if you need to, and you are welcome to eat or drink during the Forum. We hope you can make it– and please feel free to invite any other philosophers, whether or not they are members of Philosophers for Sustainability!
Saturday, March 21st, 1-2:30 EST
As part of moving our field toward a sustainable future, we are excited to announce a March Forum on E-conferencing, on Saturday, March 21, 1-2:30pm EST (east coast USA and Canada time). Part of this forum will be a discussion of e-conferencing and e-vents more generally, with their advantages and disadvantages, and opportunities for advocacy in our field, from requesting an e-colloquium as part of a colloquium series to putting on smaller and larger e-vents. We hope to hear from some of you about what you have tried, how it has gone, and/or what you might try next. We will then turn to a discussion of what our own e-conference might look like, and collect suggestions and feedback toward getting started on organizing an e-conference to take place this fall.
We are adding a few short in-progress documents for discussion; please take a look before the Forum if you can.
- A short draft collection of selling points for e-conferencing, with some objections and replies, by Colin Marshall
- An initial proposal for a Philosophers for Sustainability e-conference, up for discussion
- Notes toward an e-vents how-to guide, by Eric Godoy
- An (optional) longer guide to “nearly carbon neutral” conferencing, by Ken Hiltner
In the meantime, please let us know if you are interested in being involved in a Philosophers for Sustainability e-conference as a co-organizer or helping with logistics, technical support, refereeing, or in some other way.