Workshop Title: Today’s Future: Challenges and Opportunities Across the Social Sciences
Dates: 21-22 June 2017
Location: Het Scheepvaartmuseum, Kattenburgerplein 1, 1018 KK Amsterdam
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To our historic peers, the Future was a progressive place, a period to which everyone looked forward in anticipation of, for example, better medicine, improved social and economic prosperity, enhanced human rights—a fairer, more predictable world. But the Future does not look so bright from the first part of the 21st century. Trapped between narratives of the past in which Western hegemonies triumph and experiences of upheaval caused by heightened political instability, a global refugee crisis, increased poverty, war and extinction—Today’s Future collapses back upon us, threatening to be worse. So what is social science doing to prepare?
Social science is often considered to be too slow, too unwieldy and not robust enough to compete with “hard” sciences, maths and economics. But the fact that social science is many things is precisely what makes it so adaptable, flexible and creative. Through cross-disciplinary critique—anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, geography, archaeology—social science helps us to understand contemporary issues from the perspective of multiple temporalities. How does globalisation look from the hyper-temporality of climate change? How successful has the project of decolonisation been when we see imperialism re-emerging in Russia, China and the Middle East? What is there to celebrate about neo-liberal capitalism from the perspective of those who must compete for basic resources such as food, water and clean air? What are we doing to tackle issues associated with unrest and overcrowding in our towns and cities? Through better understanding the ways in which people find meaning and value in the world, social science perspectives improve our chances of surviving the coming storms to live peacefully and sustainably on the small planet that we all call home.
At this, the fifth, annual ISRF workshop our theme asks: what are the practical ways in which the work we variously do as social scientists may be considered to take on the major challenges facing us in the 21st century? We invite participants to present their work while considering the ways in which it functions as a catalyst for or advocate of change. How does social science expose the fissures of power relations manifest in the world today? How do we assess different paradigms of value when there is increased competition for resources? How can we better apply the work we do to hold governments, politicians, corporations and other powerful elite, to account? What can we look forward to? How may Today’s Future be characterised?
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