How politics closes down uncertainty

In a previous blog post, I discussed how uncertainty is a subjective state of knowledge, not an objective condition in the world. The example of nuclear accident risks shows how many deep and intractable forms of uncertainty, ambiguity and ignorance can defy single neatly-calculated aggregations. Yet around the world, strong pressures act on academia and…

tree pattern

Politics in the language of uncertainty

Uncertainty is not a condition out there in the world. It is a state of knowledge – deeply embedded and shaped in society. The difference may seem abstract. But it could hardly be of more profound or practical importance. And this has arguably never been more true than in today’s turbulent world. One key upshot…

Art, Uncertainty and System Change

It is becoming increasingly common to see funders, at national and international levels, in the sciences, arts and humanities, encouraging interdisciplinary approaches to various fundamental policy challenges. Initiatives focusing on the interface between art and environment, or art and ecology, mostly have emerged from an arts-based starting point, but the Arts and Environment Network (AEN)…

Embracing uncertainty: what are the implications for sustainability and development?

Uncertainty is a concept that defines our times. Every media headline seems to assert that things are uncertain, and increasingly so. Whether it’s climate change, disease outbreaks, economic conditions or political settlements, the same narrative exists. Helga Nowotny, in her book The Cunning of Uncertainty, argues that “uncertainty is written into the script of life”….

Uncertainty is a concept that defines our times. Every media headline seems to assert that things are uncertain, and increasingly so. Whether it’s climate change, disease outbreaks, economic conditions or political settlements, the same narrative exists. Helga Nowotny, in her book The Cunning of Uncertainty, argues that “uncertainty is written into the script of life”….

Bioleft Project in Comunes meeting

On August 15th, Anabel Marin presented the Bioleft project within the Comunes meeting, on behalf of an interdisciplinary team of members from CENIT, the University of Buenos Aires and CONICET. The meeting was held in Buenos Aires, where an audience of 50 people listened attentively, interested in free and collaborative culture. It is the first…

Dialogues along Plural Pathways: STEPS researchers and Summer School participants in conversation

Following the STEPS Summer School in May 2018, this blog post is a conversation convened by three participants, Nimisha Agarwal, Ankita Rastogi and Jessica Cockburn. It includes introductions to the STEPS Centre’s ideas on six topics by STEPS researchers, and responses to each by different participants at the Summer School, drawing on their own knowledge…

BioLeft: experimenting with open source seed innovation in Argentina

by Patrick van Zwanenberg and Anabel Marin (Conicet / Cenit / UNSAM) It is sometimes said that plant breeders breed their aspirations about how agricultural production systems ought to function directly into their seed varieties. Over the last three decades there has been a collapse in the diversity of seed breeders (and with it the…

Creating a map with drawings and colourful objects

Mapping a transforming world in the Sierra Huichol, Mexico

by Shiara González, Lakshmi Charli-Joseph, and Beth Tellman The Wixáritari communities, better known as Huichol, are mainly located within the Sierra Madre Occidental, north of Jalisco state, Mexico. These communities, like many others in the world, and particularly in the Americas, are subject to pressures from the ‘Western’ world which are the catalyst for many…

New insights on navigating complexity in development

by Marina Apgar and Eric Kasper, Institute of Development Studies The challenges of development are complex. Insights about the nature of complexity – coming from various scientific disciplines – lead us to conclude that complex adaptive (social) systems cannot be managed in a formal top-down sense. The best we can do is to find ways…

Painting of the pre-Columbian city of Tenochtitlan in Mexico.

Things can change: history and transformations to sustainability

by Nathan Oxley, Jonathan Dolley, Shilpi Srivastava and Gordon McGranahan This is one in a series of four blog posts exploring ideas and case studies on ‘transformations’, drawing on research carried out in 2017 and looking forward to the STEPS Centre’s work in 2018. For background and links to the other posts, read the introduction….