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Future Earth webinar “The Social Challenge of 1.5°C”

Join Karen O’Brien, Frank Biermann, Ilan Chabay, Susanne Moser, Ioan Fazey and others from Future Earth’s Transformations Knowledge-Action Network to discuss mobilizing research around the social challenge of a 1.5°C target.

The Paris Agreement, signed by over 190 countries, sets an ambitious target to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” But what does this actually mean?

A 1.5°C target implies an unprecedented level of commitment and engagement to profound and rapid social transformations, which include not only mitigation efforts, but adaptation to the impacts of climate change. Social science and humanities research on transformative change provides valuable insights into the role of targets in action around climate change, on whether and how the 1.5°C target can be achieved, and on the implications of failing to do so.

This webinar will explore the social challenge of meeting the 1.5°C target. It initiates a series of activities by Future Earth’s Transformations Knowledge-Action Network, which aims to mobilize a community of researchers and practitioners interested in exploring social transformations to sustainability. We welcome all to participate: scientists, communicators, and stakeholders in the fields of sustainability and global change.

To join this webinar, fill out the registration here.

For more information, contact:
Rebecca Oliver, Future Earth


Welcome from Future Earth Secretariat
Rebecca Oliver (2 minutes)

Karen O’Brien (5 minutes)

Social Science for Transformation
Susanne Moser and Melissa Leach (5 minutes each)

The Governance of Transformations
Frank Biermann (7 minutes)

Seeking Collective Behaviour Change – the agenda
Ilan Chabay and Heinz Gutscher (7 minutes)

Transformations 2017 conference – Why an understanding of transformations in practice is essential Ioan Fazey (7 minutes)

Discussion/questions from audience
(17 minutes)

Wrap up: The TKAN and the challenge of 1.5°C
Karen O’Brien, Susanne Moser, Melissa Leach (5 minutes)


Frank Biermann is a research professor of Global Sustainability Governance with the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. He also chairs the Earth System Governance Project. His current research examines options for a reform of the United Nations and multilateral institutions, global adaptation governance, Sustainable Development Goals, the political role of science, global justice, and conceptual innovations such as the notion of the Anthropocene. Before joining Utrecht University in 2015, Biermann professor and head of the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam for twelve years. In 2007-2014, he also served as director-general of the Netherlands Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (SENSE), a national research and teaching network of twelve research institutes with about 600 PhD students.

Ilan Chabay is Senior Advisor for Global Sustainability Research at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam. He developed and chairs the KLASICA knowledge, learning, and societal change research alliance and co-leads the SMART project (Sustainable Modes of Arctic Resource-driven Transformations). He has authored or co-authored over 60 articles in major journals (in the social and natural sciences). He was a visiting professor in sociology and IT at Gothenburg and Chalmers universities in Sweden and consulting professor of chemistry at Stanford. He was Assoc. Director of the Exploratorium Science Museum, San Francisco, and founded and led, New Curiosity Shop, in Silicon Valley from 1983 to 2001. This firm designed and produced interactive exhibitions and learning experiences for more than 230 museums, science centers, government agencies, and corporations in 16 countries.

Ioan Fazey is Professor of Social Dimensions of Environmental Change and Director of the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience at the University of Dundee. He researches resilience, adaptation and wider societal transformations. He is the convener of the 3rd Biennial Transformations to Sustainability Conference, which will be held at Dundee in August/September 2017.


Heinz Gutscher is Professor Emeritus of Social Psychology at the University of  Zurich (UZH). His interests include social influence processes, trust and confidence, social psychological aspects of sustainability issues, risk perception and risk communication, change management, planning and evaluation of large-scale social interventions and campaigns, application of social psychological know-how in the fields of energy, mobility, consumption and acceptance of new technologies. He is a member of the Future Earth Scientific Committee, President of the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences and chair of ProClim – the Swiss Forum for Climate and Global Change, Swiss Academy of Sciences.

Melissa Leach is Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex. She founded and directed the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre from 2006 – 2014. A geographer and social anthropologist, her interdisciplinary, policy-engaged research in Africa and beyond links health, environment, technology and gender, with particular interests in knowledge, power and the politics of science and policy processes. Her most recent books include The Politics of Green Transformations; Carbon Conflicts and Forest Landscapes in Africa; and Gender Equality and Sustainable Development. She is vice-chair of the Science Committee of Future Earth and a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-food).

Susanne Moser is Director of Susanne Moser Research & Consulting, an independent research firm in Santa Cruz, California and a Social Science Research Fellow at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment. She is an internationally recognized expert, working in the US, Europe, Canada and Australia with researchers, non-profits, and local, state and federal agencies on adaptation, transformations communication, and science-policy interactions. Dr. Moser has contributed to IPCC, US national, and regional assessments. She has been recognized as a fellow of the Aldo Leopold Leadership, Kavli Frontiers of Science, UCAR Leadership, Donella Meadows Leadership, Google Science Communication, and Walton Sustainability Solutions Programs. She also is a member of the Future Earth Science Committee, and serves as Senior Advisor to the International Social Science Council’s Social Transformations to Sustainability Program.

Karen O’Brien is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo. She is interested in how transdisciplinary and integral approaches to global change research can contribute to a better understanding of how societies both create and respond to change. Her current research includes “AdaptationCONNECTS,”a 5-year research project that explores the relationship between climate change adaptation and transformations to sustainability, with an emphasis on collaboration, creativity, flexibility and empowerment.  She has participated in four IPCC reports and is on the Science Committee for Future Earth. She is also the co-founder, a website that provides perspectives on transformation in a changing climate.

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