Humanities and Social Sciences for Sustainability#

Cultural and regional dimensions of global sustainability
Online Conference, October 21 & 22, 2020#

The natural sciences have driven the world’s attention to the mostly unintended, but ecologically harmful consequences of modern lifestyles. As important as these insights are, they are clearly insufficient for motivating needed policy change and change of the ways of living. For this we need a broad humanistic approach, respecting the deep cultural and social embeddedness of all everyday actions and practices. Despite the ongoing globalization processes, there is now more than ever an urgent need to understand the many dimensions of human experience that impact our world.

Getting people engaged and involved on a broad front for deep societal transformations is asking first of all a respectful appreciation of cultural and social diversity and particularities across different regions of the world. Consequently, we need to find regionally and culturally differentiated paths to reach that goal. To develop these pathways in acceptable and peaceful ways the humanities and social sciences are of crucial importance. Deep societal transformations without the social sciences’ and the humanities’ insights are hardly feasible.

The aim of the conference is to explore the humanities’ and social sciences’ potentials to contribute to the identification of culturally differentiated pathways towards global sustainability. The partners of the conference include the World Academy of Art & Science, the Academia Europaea, The Club of Rome, the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences as well as the International Geographical Union.

Contact: Benno Werlen,

Further information on the presentations and a detailed schedule can be found in the attached conference program. To access to the conference please use the following link:

To be held virtually at the Dornburger Schloesser with the financial support of the Ernst Abbe Foundation.

Join the event!#

The conference will be broadcast on YouTube Live. To join the livestream visit our platform and tour through the virtual conference venue (Dornburg Palaces near Jena/Germany) at

During conference it will be possible to leave comments and questions using the YouTube Live chat.

Download the conference program(info)

Conference Program#

Wednesday, October 21
Humanities & Social Sciences for Sustainability#

9:00 - 10:00 A.M. CET


Benno Werlen MAE

Welcome Addresses#

  • Federal State of Thuringia
    by the Minister of Economy, Science and Digital Society, Wolfgang Tiefensee

10:00 - 12:15 A.M. CET

Focus on the Cultural and Regional Dimension#

Mamphela Ramphele
Global sustainability: A vision from Africa

Garry Jacobs
Paradigm change in thinking about the social sciences

Sander van der Leuuw
Mobilizing the social sciences for sustainability


Mathieu Denis
Deep societal transformations without the social sciences?

__Thomas Reuter__ MAE
The inevitability of systemic change and the role of social sciences in accomplishing a fair and peaceful transition


2:00 - 4:45 P.M. CET

Humanities & Social Sciences: Topics in Sustainability Research#

Hartmut Rosa MAE
Caring for the monster: Social resonance as a key dimension of sustainability

Tiago de Oliveira Pinto MAE
Sounding sustainability? The humanities and the cultural dimensions of sound

Martin Leiner
Reconciliation and sustainability


Tilo Wesche
The rights of nature

Lutz Möller
Sustainability science – UNESCO’s role beyond the 2017 guidelines

John Crowley
Social science and humanities perspectives on energy systems


Thursday, October 22#

9:30 - 12:30 A.M. CET

Knowledge Mobilization and Implementation#

Luiz Oosterbeek
Understanding change to activate knowledge for sociocultural transformation

Melissa Leach MAE
Transformative knowledge for equitable sustainability: Meeting the challenges

Lucilla Spini
The space and key players for knowledge mobilization in the field of sustainability


Carlos Álvarez-Pereira
Frontiers in learning for desirable futures

Anne Snick
Learning with the head, heart, hands and hope: A basic condition for sustainability Howard Blumenthal Kids on earth in the 21st century

Branko Šmon
Art and sustainability: The Matterhorn art project “Earth plastic view“


2:00 - 3:15 P.M. CET

Knowledge Mobilization for Deep Societal Transformations#

Ursula Gobel
Imagining Canada’s future – Knowledge mobilization in research and scholarship

Joanne Kauffman & Benno Werlen
Some results of the survey on “Futures of knowledge mobilization for deep societal transformations“

Paul Shrivastava
Transdisciplinary sustainability transformation of universities


3:15 - 4:30 P.M. CET

New Strategies: Roundtable Discussion#

with Carlos Álvarez-Pereira, John Crowley, Patrick Degeorges, Philippe Forêt, Thomas Reuter, Anne Snick, Benno Werlen, and others


4:30 P.M.

Concluding Remarks

Partners and Sponsors#










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