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Sustainability science and the Anthropocene
Bettini, Giovanni ;  Brandstedt, Eric ;  Thorén, Henrik ;  Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Politik- und Sozialwissenschaften, Forschungsstelle für Umweltpolitik

Main titleSustainability science and the Anthropocene
Subtitlere-negotiating the role for science in society
AuthorBettini, Giovanni
AuthorBrandstedt, Eric
AuthorThorén, Henrik
InstitutionFreie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Politik- und Sozialwissenschaften, Forschungsstelle für Umweltpolitik
No. of Pages24 S.
Classification (DDC)300 Social sciences
AbstractThe concept of the Anthropocene conveys a radical novelty: humans have become
a ‘geological actor’ and are able to influence and affect the biosphere to an extent
unprecedented in history. This new state of affairs poses intertwined challenges to
ecological, technological, political and normative systems. It also raises hard questions
about knowledge and science. The emerging field of tainability Science seeks
to respond to such challenges. In this paper we focus on the interface linking sciences
and society, and explore attempts within Sustainability Science to conciliate
two possibly divergent goals. On the one hand, the sheer urgency of problems related
to the Anthropocene (e.g. climate change) calls for science to be more responsive to
societal needs and provide quick-and-ready solutions to ’real-world’ problems. On the
other hand, a quality benchmark for science is still needed and wanted. How to avoid
compromising one of the sides is an open question. In the literature on Sustainability
Science, tendencies can be found to give science role to envision optimal, universally
valid solutions to these challenges, as well as to negotiate these with society. If not
cautiously done, this may lead Sustainability Science towards something akin to ‘social
engineering’. Such a development faces risks of the following three kinds: (i)
to ‘freeze’ a solution, i.e. losing critical/ reflective perspectives, (ii) to be less open
to instances from society, (iii) to neglect the immanent plurality of wills in collective
decisions making. We assess some of the assumptions and implications of such approaches, isolating their components with regards to the formulation of scientific
questions, the procedures and methods employed, and the processes of transmission
(and negotiation) of the results to society. We conclude by arguing that these challenges
call for cautiousness when envisioning new forms for the intersections between
science and society.
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FU DepartmentProceedings of the Berlin Conferences on   Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change
Year of publication2010
Type of documentConferencepresentation
Terms of use/Rights Nutzungsbedingungen
Authors commentsA7: Management of GEC
Created at2010-11-11 : 02:07:41
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