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The Solution is Social: How and why to work with the human dimension in climate change research

March 16, 2023 @ 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

BC3 Seminars
The Solution is Social: How and why to work with the human dimension in climate change research “

Dr. Julia Leventon

Head of the Department of Human Dimensions of Global Change at the CzechGlobe Institute and partner of the SSH Centre project.

Sede Building (Room Aketxe), Scientific Park of the University of the Basque Country, March 16 (2023), 11:30 am-12:30 pm (CET)


Climate change is caused by human activities, the human dimension is an obvious place to look to find solutions. Yet between 1990 and 2018, social science research received only 0.12% of global research funding into climate change (Overland and Sovacool, 2020). Where they are supported, social sciences and humanities are often placed in service to the research and practice agendas of physical sciences (Kania and Bucksch, 2020). Such under-representation is perpetuated, and carried into the policy and practice arena (Royston and Foulds, 2020), for example through IPCC (Lahsen and Turnhout, 2021).

In this presentation, she discusses why neglect of the human dimension is problematic. She begins by reflecting on what human dimensions of climate change are, and the various contributions that social sciences and humanities make in understanding them. In doing so, she demonstrates the richness of knowledge that far exceeds the understanding of human dimensions as being about communicating impact or improving the acceptability of proposed solutions. Drawing on experience and examples from across a range of interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary and participatory projects and research environments, I reflect on institutional and epistemic challenges to working with human dimensions. She ends by discussing practical approaches to how we change our own research practices towards transdisciplinarity, and the kinds of support and change we need from broader academia to do so.

Throughout the talk, she will speak to you as an environmental social scientist, who often works with transdisciplinary research approaches. She tends to look across environmental problems (e.g. climate change, biodiversity loss) to explore the deep societal transformations that can unlock sustainable futures. To do so, she often works as a social scientist alongside my physical science and engineering colleagues. Further, she currently leads the social sciences section of a predominantly physical-science research institute. Through this experience, she has developed a particular interest in questions of epistemic justice and the institutional enablers and disablers of inter- and trans- disciplinary research in environmental topics, and in particular on how it shapes the questions we ask and the answers we find. She will draw on this experience and research in her talk.

About the Lecturer

Julia Leventon is the head of department of Human Dimensions of Global Change at CzechGlobe: the Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Her research focusses on transformative change towards sustainability, with a focus on processes of political and policy change. Julia’s career to date has been highly interdisciplinary, bridging physical and social sciences and thus exploring how knowledge systems shape and constrain  opportunities for transformation. As a result, she has made significant contributions to methodological development in sustainability science and transdisciplinary research practice. She puts these skills to use leading her highly interdisciplinary social science department, within a predominantly physical science research institute. Julia has been a contributing author to IPCC AR6 (WGII) on the topic of societal transformations, and is currently a coordinating lead author on the IPBES Transformative Change assessment. She is about to launch PLUS Change, funded by Horizon Europe, on social science for land use strategies for climate and biodiversity outcomes.

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March 16, 2023
11:30 am - 12:30 pm
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BC3-Basque Centre for Climate Change
Sede Building 1, 1st floor, Scientific Park of the University of the Basque Country
+34 944 014 690
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