control dials

Modernity Without its Clothes: the pandemic crisis shines a light on futilities of control

With so many self-appointed pundits (like me!) currently locked down with their laptops, the present rush of commentary on how to pivot the coronavirus crisis is hardly surprising. Beyond the general news and commentary, scores of articles are exploding across the media, diagnosing what this global catastrophe means, and prescribing how it can be turned…

1970s illustration of two heads facing each other with cut out section showing cogs

Post-normal pandemics: Why COVID-19 requires a new approach to science

Guest post by David Waltner-Toews1, Annibale Biggeri2, Bruna De Marchi3, Silvio Funtowicz3, Mario Giampietro4,5, Martin O’Connor6,7, Jerome R. Ravetz8, Andrea Saltelli3,9 and Jeroen P. van der Sluijs3,10 READ THIS ARTICLE IN SPANISH: See alternative translations published by Democracia Sur and our partners Bioleft. In addressing pandemics, science has never seemed more needed and useful, while…

UK press conference

Science, uncertainty and the COVID-19 response

One of the abiding images of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the UK has been the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, looking nervous and uncomfortable, flanked by his scientific advisors at the regular press conferences. With three white men in suits in a wood-panelled room, the aim presumably was to project a sense of control and…

The Philippines has rated ‘Golden Rice’ safe, but farmers might not plant it

by Glenn Davis Stone and Dominic Glover “Golden Rice” is probably the world’s most hotly debated genetically modified organism (GMO). It was intended to be a beta carotene-enriched crop to reduce Vitamin A deficiency, a health problem in very poor areas. But it has never been offered to farmers for planting. Why not? Because Golden…

Human capabilities for innovation in UK makerspaces

by Cian O’Donovan and Adrian Smith Makerspaces can be a source of human capabilities that benefit people and society. But these capabilities will only lead to flourishing communities if they are accompanied by structural changes to our economies, cities and environment. Using lasers to precision-cut plywood is not easy. When Toni Buckby began running classes…

Community, belonging, identity

Yesterday, Andrea Nightingale visited IDS and we had a discussion about ‘boundary-making’. Her research in Nepal looks critically at what boundaries mean, how they are made, and how they are constantly being remade and renegotiated. From purity codes, caste, class and gender boundaries, to disagreements about access to water, boundaries shape people’s lives, but they’re…

helicopter flying with high mountains in background

The 2020 Davos Manifesto: A Manifesto for the Past, Rather than the Future

Out of the networking orgy that is the World Economic Forum (WEF) has emerged the Davos Manifesto 2020: ‘The Universal Purpose of a Company in the Fourth Industrial Revolution’.  Unfortunately, the document is likely to fall short in its objective to improve the state of the world, writes Adrian Ely. It’s the 49th anniversary of…

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump standing on a staircase together

Rural support for authoritarian populism is strong – but another way is possible

The rise of authoritarian populism continues. Now the UK has a fully signed-up version in its new right-wing government, with allies in Trump, Modi, Bolsarano, Orban and others. It is a dangerous, but perhaps inevitable, trend. The soul-searching on the Left after the UK election rather belatedly diagnosed the problem. It has been long in…

Why does public research money often fail to support sustainable and just food systems?

The European Union and its Member States spend considerable amounts of their budget on supporting Research and Development (R&D) activities. In the summer of 2019, the EU Commission announced how it would spend the last annual tranche of Horizon 2020 – a €77 billion research and innovation funding programme running since 2014. For the Commission,…

Lightbulbs of different shapes and sizes

Doing digital differently: four innovation lessons from the grassroots

by Adrian Smith, Adrian Ely and Phil Jones When Knowle West residents met with artists Paul Hurley and Caleb Parking in 2016, they had little idea they were at the vanguard of grassroots innovation and doing ‘digital’ differently. The meeting was at Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC), a community-based space in Bristol that uses arts…