Reflections on Authoritarian Populism: Democracy, Technology and Ecological Destruction

Using anarchist critique to unearth the ‘roots’ of authoritarian populism can offer a productive gateway for understanding the origins and continuation of socio-ecological and economic crises. The language of ‘authoritarian populism’ creates the potential for a broad spectrum of inquiry, which can ignite timely and much-needed debate on the nature and mechanisms of authoritarian political…

Science, Brexit and ‘post-truth’ politics

STEPS co-director Andy Stirling is one of six researchers writing in the Guardian on ‘science after Brexit’. A longer version of his part of the Guardian article is below. The current woes of British democracy are grim and momentous. This is no time for gratuitous piggy-backing of other issues. The early indications of ‘Brexit’ specifically…

From Knowledge Economy to Innovation Democracy

The ESRC STEPS Centre’s Co-Director Professor Andy Stirling recently gave a keynote speech at the European Commission’s ‘FTA 2014: future oriented technology analysis’ conference. Prof. Stirling’s address, From Knowledge Economy to Innovation Democracy: collective action in the shaping of scientific and technological futures, was based on his extensive work on technocratic transitions and opening up…

Technology & democracy: the story of Brazil’s Social Technology Network

A new STEPS working paper tells the story of a recent experiment in grassroots innovation – the Social Technology Network (STN) in Brazil. The paper, by Mariano Fressoli and Rafael Dias, is linked to our project on historical and comparative perspectives on grassroots innovation. Formed in 2004, the STN was a ‘hybrid’, involving social movements,…

Against authoritarianism: Why we shouldn’t ‘put democracy on hold’ to achieve sustainability

Does the human response to global environmental challenges need to be channelled through authoritarian, controlled ‘transitions’? Threatened by climate change, should we ‘put democracy on hold for a while’? Or could more unruly modes of change, inspired by other ongoing radical social transformations – release from colonialism, racism and patriarchy, for example – offer more…

Democracy in the Anthropocene? Science and Sustainable Development Goals at the UN

Melissa Leach, STEPS Centre director, was one of 28 scientists invited to attend a United Nations Expert Meeting to discuss science and Sustainable Development Goals. She reflects on the issues addressed, the process involved and asks whether a dangerous new world of undisputed scientific authority and anti-democratic politics lies ahead. Read about Melissa’s experience of the United Nations…

STEPS Symposium 2013: Beyond Rio+20 – Improving global structures for scientific advice

Lidia Brito.Photo: Lance Bellers Guest blog by Ruth Segal, Doctoral Researcher, SPRU  In recent years, global initiatives have attempted to co-ordinate scientific advice and assessments – on climate change, biodiversity and agriculture, among other topics. The second day of the STEPS Symposium on the global politics of scientific advice opened with a panel looking at…

STEPS Symposium 2013: Science and developing countries – whose expertise counts?

Dipak Gyawali at the symposium. Photo: Lance Bellers Guest blog by Rachael Taylor, PhD student, SPRU The second session of the STEPS Symposium on the global politics of scientific advice asked ‘whose expertise counts?’ In his opening comments, Professor Brian Wynne (University of Lancaster) turned this question around by asking “whose questions count?” He described…

3 challenges for science and democracy after Rio+20

Rally to Restore Sanity, from Steve Rhodes’ photostream on Flickr (by-nc-nd) By Melissa Leach, STEPS Centre director When sustainability poses complex and often tangled questions, how do we answer them? In international circles before, at and since Rio, we’re seeing strong arguments for a science-led agenda – from Earth System Science and planetary boundaries, to…

Opening up Sustainable Development decision-making at the UN?

By Adrian Ely, in Rio de Janeiro The Rio+20 conference has been enriched by a process to engage civil society  the Rio+20 Dialogues forSustainable Development.  While innovative and pioneering approaches like this should be encouraged, there is much room for improvement in the future. The Rio Dialogues were initiated in April by the Government of…