Co-authored with an international crowd, led by Nicola Labanca and Ângela Guimarães Pereira, of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, this article explores the tensions and potential common ground between practice theory and complex systems approaches, in relation to innovations for decarbonisation.
Labanca, N., Pereira, Â.G., Watson, M., Krieger, K., Padovan, D., Watts, L., Moezzi, M., Wallenborn, G., Wright, R., Laes, E. and Fath, B.D., 2020. Transforming innovation for decarbonisation? Insights from combining complex systems and social practice perspectives. Energy Research & Social Science, 65, p.101452.
The Reducing Academic Flight workshop surpassed expectations by a long way. We knew we had a good bunch of speakers, but the range of talks was broader, and more apposite than could be anticipated. They ranged from hitting hard with the fundamental ethical trouble of flight – as banal evil (Johan Gardebo), indirect but real violence (Joseph Nevins) and key to making the climate emergency (Kim Nicholas) – through theoretically informed and deeply reflective understandings of the embeddedness of flying to academic practice (James Faulconbridge, Andrew Glover), the difference that Geography makes to the costs of cutting flying (Debbie Hopkins) and inescapable value of direct interpersonal engagement (Monica Buscher) to findings from surveys into climate scientists flight (Stuart Capstick), details of experiments in doing academia differently (Renee Timmers) and of institutional efforts to make a difference (Sion Pickering ). Contrasts were strong but they worked together to effectively unpick the vexed issue of academic flight and the challenges and opportunities facing measures to radically reduce air travel dependence in academia.
Thanks to being part of the Redefining Single Use Plastics project (I guess), I was one of two UK social scientists identified by the French Government’s Ministry for Higher Education and Research to be invited, via UK’s Government Office for Science, to a scientific workshop feeding directly into a G7 policy round table on microplastic pollution.
Geographical research be going with practice theory? And how? Thinking on that
was the challenge I set myself for an invited keynote talk in Halle yesterday.
The Summer School was organised by the Practice Theory and Space Group, funded by Germany’s national research council and led by Jonathan Everts, professor of Anthropogeography at Martin Luther University, Halle-Salle.
It’s the second time I’ve taken the train to Germany rather than fly. The first time it was for an invited talk at a meeting at the Cultural Politics of Sustainable Mobility international network – the irony of flying for that was too great, after a few years of building guilt as hopped on planes around Europe to examine PhD or evaluate grant proposals on themes of sustainability. Finding then that Germany by train is a pleasure, and increasingly motivated to contest the flight dependence of academia, it was easy to say I’d only take on this invitation if I could get the train. So, an enjoyable journey to Halle-Salle and back to deliver a keynote talk at the Practice and Space summer school.
It was a surprise to be invited to speak at a knowledge exchange event on communication and behaviour change to reduce energy use. My work and that of others, not least in the DEMAND centre on which I was co-investigator, challenges the emphasis on communication, and behaviour change as conventionally framed, to effect change in what people do. But the event was part of a follow on project from the excellent Material Cultures of Energy project led by Frank Trentmann at Birkbeck, and seemed an opportunity to deliver the same messages again to a diverse audience of academics and policy professionals at the Science Museum.