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Sustainability: Concepts & Materials

UCL Environment Institute

Friday, May 18, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (BST)

London, United Kingdom

Sustainability: Concepts & Materials

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Archaeology G06 LT, 18th May 2012 

1 day workshop on sustainability to be held at UCL on Friday 18th May 2012

The Anthropology Sustainability Reading and Research Group at UCL announce a one day interdisciplinary workshop on the theoretical and analytical perspectives of Sustainability. This will be held in conjunction with the Cultures of Sustainability Section of the Environment Institute.

The aim of the workshop is to draw people together who are working on sustainability and encourage interdisciplinary exploration and networking across UCL's faculties. It is hoped that different departments will bring their understandings and theorisation of sustainability and that the panels will be diverse in their approaches and subject matter. Sessions are encouraged to be innovative in format. This is intended to be deliberately broad enough to encourage engagement with a diverse range of subject matters and different understandings of sustainability.

Each 60 minute session will be followed by 30 minute break-out discussions in smaller groups with feedback.


The theme and sessions:

As Latour argues, this is a historical moment, not only when material engagements are more frequent but also more intimate, and this intimacy has given us detailed (scientific) knowledges about changes to the climate of the earth. This has resulted in a redefinition of the term 'sustainability' which implies a reordering of the material and moral. Now it feels like the entire material world is being redefined in terms of sustainability.

The definition of sustainability, however, is still highly contested, ranging from Rayner (2009) and Giddens (2009) who like the usefulness of the term, to Beckerman, who calls it an all-embracing concept “with no clear analytical bite” (2008:1). This, despite so much time, energy and money going into its implementation at almost every level of society. It is time to further clarify and to ask: What are the ideas that constitute sustainability? And what possible futures are these producing? How is sustainability made material and what does this mean? How can we work together to make sure that the best ideas surface, constructively critique developing concepts of sustainability and how it is being materialised.

The day will be structured around 2 paper sessions, a number of 5 minute summaries of PhD projects and Open Space networking sessions. We also hope to include a poster session.

We invite submissions for all these sessions:

The Paper Sessions

Concepts of Sustainability

Papers might like to consider the history, archeology or philosophy of sustainability, or what these new conditions may mean for politics, policy-making or business contexts.

The Materiality of Sustainability

Papers might like to consider how the concept of sustainability is made material, contained in the material world or whether this can or should be attempted. Papers from the material sciences which reflect on these issues are welcome as well as from architectural, design and planning departments.

Submissions to this session category should not submit to the 5 minute abstract category, but can apply to display a poster. In other words, you can do one paper or one 5 minute presentation, but not both because we would like to feature as many people's work as possible.

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When & Where


Archaeology LT G06
31-34 Gordon Square
WC1H 0PY London
United Kingdom

Friday, May 18, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (BST)


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UCL Environment Institute

The UCL Environment Institute is the focal point for environmental research and related activities in UCL. Our central mission is to foster the interdisciplinary research that is needed to tackle today’s complex environmental problems effectively.

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