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Governance and Planetary Crises: Challenges and Agendas for Human Ecology

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School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent

Marlowe Building, Lecture Theatre 1

Canterbury, Kent CT1 3EH

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This half-day conference seeks to address a central paradox confronting industrial society, if not humanity, as it continues headlong into the twenty-first century: the collective ability of humans, or of some humans at any rate, to fundamentally transform the Earth and its life-supporting capability is not matched by an ability to act collectively and concertedly in a way that supports those capacities in the foreseeable future.

Our motivation to invite a select group of scholars who in their own ways are directly engaged with this conundrum emerges from the understanding that the Anthropocene, with its multiple, existential, urgent, cascading and concatenating crises, challenges many of the core categories and assumptions of the various disciplines represented in the School of Anthropology and Conservation, and which shape and guide our research on human-environment interactions.

Four internationally-renowed speaker respond to the provocation that the Anthropocene, formulated in terms of governance and planetary-scale problems and processes, signals not just a new geological epoch, but a new epoch of thought and politics, with its attendant epistemic, methodological, institutional, normative and legal dimensions.

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Invited Speakers:

Dr. Frank Biermann (Utrecht University), "Navigating the Anthropocene: From Environmental Policy to Earth System Governance."

Frank Biermann is a research professor of Global Sustainability Governance with the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands. He also chairs the Earth System Governance Project, a global transdisciplinary research network launched in 2009 under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change. His most recent book is Earth System Governance: World Politics in the Anthropocene (MIT Press, 2014).


Professor Philipp Pattberg (VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands), “Governing the Anthropocene: Challenges and Prospects.”

Philipp Pattberg is professor of transnational environmental governance and policy at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), VU Amsterdam, The Netherlands and head of the Environmental Policy Analysis department. Philipp specializes in the study of global environmental politics (including climate change, energy, biodiversity, forestry, and oceans) with a focus on private transnational governance, multi-stakeholder partnerships, network theory and institutional analysis. His recent publications include Environmental Politics and Governance in the Anthropocene: Institutions and Legitimacy in a Complex World (edited with F. Zelli, Routledge, 2016) and Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Politics and Governance. Cheltenham (edited with F. Zelli, Edward Elgar, 2015).


Dr. Rory Rowan (University of Zurich, Switzerland), "Governing the Earth: Earth System Governance and the Post-Political Anthropocene."

Rory Rowan is a Lecturer and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Political Geography Research Unit at the University of Zurich, where his research focuses on the political and philosophical dimensions of the Anthropocene, Earth system governance and the political geographies of extra-planetary space. He is author with Claudio Minca of On Schmitt and Space (Routledge, 2015) and regularly contributes writing on politics, art and cultural criticism to a number of print and online publications.


Professor Davor Vidas (The Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway), ""The Anthropocene: the new meaning of change and stability under international law.”

Davor Vidas is Research Professor in International Law and Director of the Law of the Sea Programme at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway. He is a member of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy, and the Chair of the Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise at the International Law Association. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal monograph series Brill Research Perspectives on the Law of the Sea, and of a popular-science book series Anthropocene.



Photo credit: Paulo Raquel, 2010 (Creative Commons License)


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School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent

Marlowe Building, Lecture Theatre 1

Canterbury, Kent CT1 3EH

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