2016/07/26 09:30 Josh Tewksbury, “Living in the Anthropocene: Science, Sustainability, and Society”, ISSS 2016 Boulder

Plenary @ISSSMeeting @tewksjj @FutureEarth, Keynote #isss2016USA, 60th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences and 1st Policy Congress of ISSS, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Day 1 theme:  Global Science and Assessment

Plenary III: Connecting Human and Natural System(s) Research

  • Description: Current ecological trends present a dramatic picture of potentially catastrophic change in the world. At the same time, our human and societal response mechanisms seem poorly designed for coping with complexity, and science seems unable to address systemic problems and systems as a whole. What are the challenges in science, policy, and ethics to become a sustainably healthy civilization with creative options for the future?

Chair: Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey, University of Colorado, Boulder

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

Josh Tewksbury is Director of the Colorado Global Hub, Future Earth.


Joshua Tewksbury

[Josh Tewksbury]

Last night panel, a defender of science

  • Across sciences, making some scientists uncomfortable

Doesn’t matter how we frame

  • Societal transformation
  • Large, ambitious, required for parts of society that we want

Most leverage in mindset

  • What are the mechanisms that lead to outcomes?
  • Do we need goals, what are aiming for?
  • Then need information flow

Changing in information flows, e.g. Facebook

  • Contact isn’t the challenge

Goals:  12 to 18 months, have had a big year as compared to last 10 year

  • Global Goals
  • Paris 2015 COP201
  • Pope
  • Bottom-up nature of goals
  • Have goals, how do countries get there?

Mechanisms for change (or transformation) thinking as a science

  • What should science look for, in the anthropocene?
  • One species
  • Huge challenge for science

Ecologists like to study critters

  • Facing more team science challenges
  • Standardization
  • Working across teams, across disciplines

Want predictive models, and risks

  • Impacts on society
  • e.g. where will drought be in the future
  • Wind farms need to know where wind will be in the world

Also looking for science connected with CDC, DEFRA (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development), Inter-American Development Bank (Berkshire Hathaway), Coca-Cola

Ecologist view, maybe 1% of academia

  • Bigger tribe is the science tribe
  • Science tribe is trying to influence politicians, not our tribe
  • Economist:  can look at the politicians by tribe
  • USA, academics don’t have influence; stronger in Egypt and South Korea

Response of traditional science:  not generating societal benefits, not at the rate we want

  • We come up with problems, generate research, transfer knowledge
  • Model is too simplistic
  • Whole ecosystems outside of academic space, because decisions are made with and without data
  • In conservation, knowledge coming from a lot of practitioners

9 report series:  IUCN

  • Where does the referencing comes into global reports?
  • Science isn’t the majority factor, maybe 25%
  • Majority space created by consultants, white papers by NGOs for targeted audiences — not bad, but separated from the academia

What kind of science is getting through?

  • Ecology is driving the enviroment
  • But 10:1 for social science

Need science as part of engagement on major challenges, in collaboration with policy and other aspects of society

  • More influence on stakeholders than directly on policy
  • Government advisors, not government

In ecology, communications

  • Ecologists can talk with social scientists, natural scientists
  • Only reach decision-makers when have a press release
  • Need knowledge co-production in a 2-way information flow
  • Too much:  want scientists to do good science
  • Two way:  science needs direction and focus

Evolution of social change programs

  • Was world climate research program 1980
  • Global change IGBP 1987
  • 1996 IHDP
  • 2001 Earth System
  • 2013 Future Earth:  take previous programs, support, build on them, work together on societal challenges

Future Earth as network

  • 5 global hubs, 7 regional centers, link to Global Action Network
  • Boundary organization, job not to do primary science, but to build with secretariat functions
  • In Boulder, work on research enabling, capacity building, communications and engagement, work with Stockholm and Tokyo
  • Work with communities as peers

Research program:

  • Open inclusive network for sustainability science
  • Struggling to do this, digital network should come out next month
  • Core projects
  • Knowledge Action Networks

Have 8 different Knowledge Action Networks:

  • Water, energy, food nets
  • Health
  • Natural assets
  • Cities
  • SDGs
  • Oceans
  • Transformations
  • Finance and Economies

Only started this 8 months ago

Co-designing transdisciplinary research cells:  one major call per year

Asking scientists to be communicators is dangerous

  • Future Earth Media Lab
  • The Anthropocene Magazine:  long form journalism

Science as a service

  • Have an audience, have to respond to their needs
  • As scientist, was searching for silver bullet solutions, but need a new collaborative way

[Question for Josh]

Health is tied to food.  Science of ayuvedic.

[Questions for panel]

Panel: Jeremiah OsborneGowey, Bruce Milne, JoshTewksbury, Tuesday plenary

Basic needs, governance at the same level?  Not the same as government.  Consciousness as a dead end.  Strategies to move forward, goal-seeking behaviour was rejected by the systems sciences community a long time ago.  Systemic practice that leads to systemic design to become to major praxis, rather than narrow goal-seeking behaviour.  Systems in the service of systems literacy, building capability.

  • No comments

ISSS has had history transfer of models across disciplines.  Silver buckshot.  Funding for the general systems knowledge base that could sustain?

  • [Tewksbury] Future Earth is only a container.
  • International social sciences foundation
  • Data-information:  Data and knowledge information working group — how to create an integrated approach, one science-based and one technology-based

Does the Future Earth project have food and energy?

  • [Tewksbury] Opportunities in this space:  100 Change, Macarthur Foundation, what would you do with $100M
  • Thinking differently about the values and valuing of nature
  • Opened the door, IPDS, rethinking how our values of nature need to change

Science as a service.  Funding.

  • [Tewksbury]  Need to increase the impact of science, without changing the service of science to society

Elements in holistic theory, five elements theory from differentiation of the centre.  Open-closed is mechanics.  Thermodynamics.  Organizational force, opposition of thermodynamics.  Consciousness.  Narrative, way to maintain the system.  Good things that we can do to maintain the system, otherwise thermodynamics will destroy the system.

  • [Milne] Thanks, let’s get together and write that down.

Assumption that these solutions require the adoption by the whole of the globe.  What does it mean for indigenous people?  New world order?

  • [Tewksbury] Could fail if don’t include indigenous knowledge.  Colonial model will fail.
  • Working with Africa office
  • Can’t say anything about this, with legitimacy.
  • Can help convene and listen to an Africa vision.

Science is critical, and pointless.  What is power about?  Ruling narrative.  Who has the weapons and who has the money.  Science has been successful when the military pays for it.  Do you have money, or just another well-underfunded institution?

  • [Tewksbury] When Future Earth was founded, it was given global change programs for a step change in programs, but no step change in funding.  MacArthur Foundation the best international development funding body.  Pushed Future Earth, because they’re a boundary organization.  Creating dollars around calls.
  • Could talk to USAID, but doing science in one country and aid in another country doesn’t make sense.  A lot of work is funding alliance.