This page features recent and upcoming events organized by, affiliated with, or relevant to the work of Philosophers for Sustainability. Our Sustainability in Philosophy forum series is held monthly on Zoom from September through April, organized and moderated by Eugene Chislenko.
If you have a relevant event you would like to have posted here, or have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a more comprehensive academic events calendar not limited to philosophy, please check out Rutgers Climate Institute Events page.
RECENT AND UPCOMING EVENTS
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. Building on our earlier 2021 conference, this day-long conference aims at making progress in practice. We will get together to work toward addressing the climate crisis through teaching, curriculum development, event organizing, public philosophy, and institutional advocacy and change.
The conference will be held on April 29, 2023 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET. See the 2023 conference details.
It has become clear that to get things moving on issues of sustainability, it is important to build coalitions between groups, both within one’s field and across disciplines, including collaborations with and among undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, staff, administrators, organizers, and non-academics in a range of areas. We are excited to announce a Forum on Coalition Building Within and Across Disciplines, to be held on Friday, March 24, 2023 12-1 p.m. ET. We will discuss resources, strategies, and challenges of building productive coalitions and talk through next steps for ourselves individually and collectively.
It has become increasingly clear in recent years that mental health is a key issue and, specifically, a key climate issue. A large recent study (Hickman et al., 2021) suggests that a majority of people under 25 globally are “very or extremely worried” about climate change, and a majority experience each of the following about climate change: sadness, anxiety, anger, powerlessness, helplessness, and guilt. We do too. Most of us are not mental health professionals, but we still have to deal with mental health struggles around climate in our students, colleagues, and ourselves.
Join us on Friday, February 17, 2023 from 12-1 p.m. ET for a Forum on Climate Change and Mental Health, an informal discussion of useful ways of approaching these issues. We will share strategies and resources and will discuss questions like: What emotional responses and mental health struggles has climate change elicited in your students? When/how is it helpful to address these struggles in classes? What do you do when met with denial? Depression? Anger? Fear? Guilt? Entitlement? Sadness? Grief? Solastalgia? Resignation? Where do we find joy/awe/satisfaction/pleasure/
After a successful APA 2+1 Campaign, we are excited to announce a Forum on Virtual Conferences to discuss next steps and good practices in advocacy for virtual events. Ideas on the table include but are not limited to:
Updates on the APA Virtual Meeting Task Force from Rachel Fredericks. How can we best support this task force to ensure the ongoing success of 2+1?
- Opportunities to work with other academic organizations (within and beyond philosophy) to build bridges and exchange strategies for successful virtual conferencing and organizational reform. Does anyone have contacts or potential contacts with other organizations that we can exchange ideas with?
- Philosophers for Sustainability previously drafted a White Paper on Informal Networking for the APA taskforce and (much earlier) assembled a repository of some resources for conference organizers. We’d like to discuss ways to more widely distribute this material, such as a high-profile blog post. Is anyone interested in co-authoring such articles?
- Open discussion. Are there any ideas about virtual conferences that you wish to discuss?
The forum will be held on Friday, January 20, 2023 from 12-1 p.m. ET. We would love to see you there.
Philosophers increasingly face difficult choices in balancing sustainability with other considerations in teaching and research, event organizing, department governance, and institutional service. Drawing on experience in sustainability leadership and on the APA Good Practices Guide recommendations on sustainability, this webinar offers an opportunity to identify and discuss next steps toward sustainable practices in philosophy, as well as discussion of responses to the logistical and mental health challenges of addressing issues of sustainability.
The panelists for the webinar are as follows:
- Eugene Chislenko
Philosophy, Temple University
- Helen De Cruz
Danforth Chair in the Humanities, Saint Louis University
- Rebecca Millsop
- Kian Mintz-Woo
Philosophy & Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork, Ireland
The event will be held on Friday, November 4, 2022 at 11 a.m. Eastern time / 8 a.m. Pacific time. If you’re unable to attend the live webinar, a recording will be made available in the APA On Demand Video Library afterward.
This webinar confronts the question of whether the globally affluent have a moral obligation, either individually or collectively, to reduce their flying in view of the large carbon emissions associated with individual plane trips. We also raise the question of whether academic associations, universities, and departments ought morally to reduce the combined professional air travel currently entailed by their activities. The panelists will present diverse and sometimes conflicting perspectives on these questions and will raise related issues of accessibility, expense, and professional advancement.
This webinar will be held on Tuesday, October 25, 2022 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. PT.
Divestment from fossil fuels is a key way of defunding unsustainable energy practices, but how can we advocate on its behalf? This Forum on Divestment Advocacy, held on Friday, October 7, 2022 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET, will think through possibilities and strategies.
We will be coming in fresh from a summer break and some significant successes with the APA 2+1 Campaign, our workshops program, our Online Accessibility Pledge, and other initiatives, and are excited to look ahead with you to shifting our field and the world farther toward sustainable practices in 2022-23. Several of us have ideas to share and we would love to hear yours. Join us on September 16, 2022.
Soil has many lives: it moderates the carbon cycle, serves as the foundation for vegetation and food, and is ascribed different values and meanings by populations worldwide.
Soil degradation, a result of environmental toxicities and climate change-related events such as extreme heat and erosion, not only depletes soil productivity but disrupts the relationships people have formed with geographic spaces throughout history, and the knowledge embedded in those relationships.
In this panel, to be held on April 15, 2022, we will discuss the different ways that soil connects and disrupts us in the era of climate change. Scholars and practitioners will describe the nature of that degradation and its effects on public health, struggles for food sovereignty, and its role of soil in the production of climate-vulnerable landscapes.
This event is free and open to the public. Please circulate widely!
Note that this event will be recorded.
Confirmed panelists include:
Simona Capisani (Philosophy, Postdoctoral Associate, Princeton University)
Kirsten Schwartz (Urban Ecologist and Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA)
Opening remarks provided by CPP Provost, Jennifer Brown.
The panel will be moderated by CCEP Faculty Fellow, Nicole Lambrou.
Global change is increasingly forcing environmental and health care ethics to face each other. This meeting of disciplines is likely to clash with tragic results and to disappoint many, while at the same time it is fraught with tantalizing possibilities. The main practical consequence of interest for our discussion today is: health care systems in developed countries must learn to respect Earth’s limits and to make a rapid transition to adaptation to climate change. At the same time, the environmental dilemmas of health care expose a couple of deep philosophical paradoxes.
Please join us on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 from 4-5 p.m. ET for our Bioethics in the Anthropocene seminar. The featured speaker is Andrew Jameton, PhD (University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health and University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics), who can be reached at email@example.com. This event is part of the Research Needs for a Climate Positive Health System seminar series. It is hosted by the Centre for Sustainable Health Systems, Joint Centre for Bioethics, and School of the Environment at the University of Toronto, as well as CASCADES (https://cascadescanada.ca).
What has care of the environment got to do with bioethics? Learn and discuss with our presenters—two bioethicists and environmental advocates. Presented by the International Association of Catholic Bioethics (ACA), join us at Ecology, Health, & Bioethics, featuring discussion with Dr. Christina Richie and Dr. Henk ten Have. This event will be held on Saturday, February 26, 2022 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. UTC.
This fall we launched the APA 2+1 Campaign to encourage the American Philosophical Association to switch to a conference model that alternates between fully virtual and fully online meetings. This shift would have a substantial impact on the sustainability of philosophy as a field, greatly reducing our carbon footprint while also increasing the accessibility and variety of conference formats and maintaining opportunities for in-person interaction. The campaign has generated substantial interest, discussion, and other new initiatives. We are excited to announce a Forum on the APA 2+1 Campaign, to be held on Zoom on Friday, February 18, 1-2 p.m. ET. We will share updates about the campaign, discuss next steps, and brainstorm new ideas together.
As we head into this year, students and teachers alike are scared, overwhelmed, sad, numb, and many other things, about both climate change and other world events. Join us on Wednesday, January 26, 2022 from 2-3 p.m. ET for a Forum on Climate Emotion, an informal discussion of useful ways of approaching climate emotion in practice and in theory. We will share strategies and resources and will discuss questions like: What emotional responses has climate change elicited in your students? When/how is it helpful for instructors to show/communicate emotion around climate change? What do you do when met with denial? Anger? Fear? Guilt? Entitlement? Sadness? Grief? Solastalgia? Resignation? Where do we find joy/awe/satisfaction/pleasure/
On Tuesday, December 7, 2021 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. ET, climate science and environmental policy experts from Princeton University and Climate Central will reflect on the outcomes of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), including the conference’s major successes, its missed opportunities, and where the world goes from here.
Panel speakers are listed below.
- Stephen Pacala, the Frederick D. Petrie Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and director of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI), and member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
- Michael Oppenheimer, the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs and the High Meadows Environmental Institute, and director of the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment (C-PREE)
- Denise Mauzerall, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Public and International Affairs
- Karen Florini, Vice President for Programs, Climate Central
This event is hosted by the Climate Futures Initiative in Science, Values and Policy (CFI) at Princeton University, an interdisciplinary research program administered by HMEI and cosponsored with the University Center for Human Values (UCHV). This event is cosponsored by the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment (C-PREE) in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
This fall we are in the midst of a mass effort to make philosophy more sustainable by alternating in person and virtual events. The lead campaign in that effort is the APA 2+1 Campaign, which is now gaining steam, generating widespread discussion, and beginning to inspire other, related initiatives. We are delighted to announce a Forum on the APA 2+1 Campaign, to be held Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. ET. We will hear updates on recent developments in and related to the campaign and then strategize next steps, including connections to other Philosophers for Sustainability efforts, collaborations with other groups, and ways we might make similar efforts in our local philosophical communities. We hope you can join us!
Please join the Public Philosophy network on Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. ET until Saturday, October 23, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. ET for their 2021 conference: “Engagement, Policy, and Practice,” hosted by the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at George Mason University. Conference details can be found on the Public Philosophy Network website.
The Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education, held this year from October 12-14, 2021, brings together sustainability leaders from around the world in a virtual format to share effective models, policies, research, collaborations and transformative actions that advance sustainability in higher education and surrounding communities.
Theme: The Future Is…
The failure of many entities to respond effectively to a deadly pandemic, coming at a time when society is already reeling from intensifying climate-related disasters, ongoing systemic racism and rising authoritarianism, has resulted in profound apprehension about the future. With a theme of “The future is…”, this year’s Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education reflects the uncertainty about the future that many feel and invites participants to recommit themselves to the urgent work of building a future that is sustainable, equitable, and resilient. We seek to highlight inspiring examples of higher education leadership that empower participants to envision and create such a future. Ultimately, the future is ours to make.
GCSHE will convene a diverse group of attendees including faculty, students, sustainability staff, administrators, business partners, nonprofit representatives, government officials and community members to examine:
- How does higher education need to change to effectively meet the grand challenges of our time?
- How can higher education institutions demonstrate the potential for a resilient, equitable, and sustainable future in the operation of their campuses?
- How can higher education support students and employees struggling with anxiety about the future and equip them to better navigate this future?
- How can higher education institutions help their communities prepare for future crises?
In this October 8, 2021 forum, Kian Mintz-Woo (University College Cork, Ireland) will explore some of the moral and political considerations surrounding fossil fuel divestment agendas vs. financial activism agendas in higher educational institutions (HEIs). Subsequently, Jeremy Bendik-
In the context of diverse peoples’ movements continuing to organize and rise-up in advance of the UN Climate Talks in Glasgow and other international gatherings over the next critical years, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International is organizing the “Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice: Solutions from the Frontlines and the Protection and Defense of Human Rights and Nature,” a free, gender-diverse, public forum to take place virtually September 25-30, 2021, in parallel to the UN General Assembly.
During the Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice, Grassroots, Indigenous, Black, Brown, and Frontline Women Leaders, Global Advocates, and Policy-Makers will join together in solidarity to speak out against environmental and social injustice, draw attention to root causes of multiple interlocking crises, and present the diverse array of visions, projects, policy frameworks and strategies with which they are working to shape a healthy and equitable world. The Assembly is an inclusive space across identities and the gender spectrum. Learn more about the Assembly here: https://www.
Our inaugural virtual 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:
- Moral and political responses to climate change: challenges pertaining to climate justice, inequality, indigenous rights, migration, individual responsibility, responses to disaster and emergency.
- 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.
We are excited to announce a May 27, 2021 pre-conference forum, from 12-1 p.m. EST, in conjunction with Philosophers for Sustainability’s monthly Sustainability in Philosophy forum series—a smaller, informal opportunity for presenters and attendees to meet each other and say hello, ask questions about the conference, share strategies for making e-conferences go well, and think together about how to absorb the energy of the conference into an ongoing, growing climate movement within philosophy.
We are excited to announce our next Sustainability in Philosophy Forum on The Future of E-vents in Philosophy, to be held on Friday, April 30, 2021 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET (convert times here). This forum is being organized with Helen De Cruz, Colin Marshall, and Eric Godoy, with input from other members of our E-vents Advocacy Team. Here’s their description:
“With the end of the pandemic in sight, many are eager to return to in-person interaction. But we’ve learned a huge amount over the past year about creating inclusive, low-carbon alternatives to our pre-COVID practices. Now is therefore a great time to advocate for e-vents and figure out their role in the future of our profession. At this meeting the E-vents Advocacy Team is excited to hear about your experiences and plans for events, and to discuss several of their upcoming projects:
- creating a repository for successful e-vent formats
- writing a series of blog posts about the successes and potential for future e-vents
- discussing ways to improve networking at e-vents
- petitioning professional organizations (including the APA) to replace some in-person meetings with virtual meetings
- exploring ways to incorporate experiential activities into e-vents and online classes.
We welcome your participation in and feedback on these projects, as well as proposals for others. There’s plenty of chances to get involved with these projects, if there is a topic you feel strongly about. As always, you can commit as little or as much time as you have to offer.”
Climate Injustice is an online academic conference (April 21-23, 2023) 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.
On April 23, 2021, “The Climate of History in a Planetary Age” (Neubauer Collegium, University of Chicago) will feature Dipesh Chakrabarty (Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College) in conversation with numerous others, including:
- 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 is organized as part of the University of Chicago’s Environmental Research and Sustainability initiative.
We are excited to announce the Spring 2021 Speaker Series: Prospects for Sustainable Peace at the Nexus of Race, Gender, and the Climate Crisis. This speaker series has four events (listed below).
On Thursday, March 11, 2021 from 4-6 p.m. ET: Black Feminist Ecological Perspectives (lecture plus Q&A).
- 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
On Thursday, April 1, 2021 from 4-6 p.m. ET: Gender, Race and Climate Justice (lecture plus Q&A).
- 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
On Thursday, April 8, 2021 from 4-6 p.m. ET: The Climate Crisis, Gender and the Prospects for Sustainable Peace (lecture plus Q&A).
- 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
On Thursday, April 15, 2021 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. ET: New Economic Paradigms for Peace and the Planet: Intersectional Feminist Perspectives (lecture plus Q&A).
- 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
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, 2021 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. EST. This 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.
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 the Technology and the Future of the Home colloquium, featuring keynote speaker Diane Michelfelder (Macalester College), is to develop and advance such conversations. The colloquium will be held from July 6-9, 2020 at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Blue River, Oregon, USA. 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:
- Smart cities
- Digital divide
- Interior design
- Future meanings
- Food sovereignty
- IoT in the home
- Universal design
- Alternative housing
- Zoning and regulations
- Disability considerations
- Architectural inspirations
- Implementation subsidies
- The home as an ecosystem
- Challenges to existing infrastructure
- Generational differences and challenges
- Cohousing, ecovillages and intentional communities
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.
Philosophers for Sustainability is pleased to announce our own upcoming conference: Philosophy & The Climate Crisis. 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:
- 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.
- 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.
Climate Week NYC (September 21-27, 2020) is the 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.
The International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD)—held this year from September 21-22, 2020 in New York, New York—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.
On Monday, September 21, 2020 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET, 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 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.
On July 6-9, 2020 at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Blue River, Oregon, we will come together for the 17th annual International Society for Environmental Ethics (ISEE) Summer Meeting. 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?
From July 6-9, 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.
In June 2020, the Norwegian University of Life Science (NMBU) will host a virtual conference: Interdisciplinarity, Sustainability and Expert Disagreement. 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 synchronize 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, developed and taught by Rani and Elena.
On Wednesday-Friday, April 22-24, 2020, 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.
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, 2020 from 10:30 to 12:00 p.m. ET, 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!
As part of moving our field toward a sustainable future, we are excited to announce a March Forum on E-Conferencing, to be held on Saturday, March 21, 2020 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. ET. 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.