The Human Predicament in 2020: Interacting Global Crises and the New Normal
This year we have all witnessed how major global stressors—from climate change and income inequality to pandemics and autocracy—can impact each other and cause massive, cascading changes in our world. At the same time, other factors including pollution, artificial intelligence, population growth, and social media seem unstoppable forces that escalate other risks. We know that regional and global crises have already become more frequent, and we fear that a broader systems collapse could be a plausible scenario.
This field—referred to as the Global Challenge, the Human Predicament, Existential Risk, or, in French, collapsologie—also carries opportunities, as big ideas reach larger audiences and people collaborate across borders. Given what we know, how do we respond?
In this roundtable conversation, we are bringing together scholars, designers, and activists both to share their perspectives on the Global Challenge, and to discuss the diverse kinds of language we use to describe and navigate this complex issue. Audience questions and comments will enrich the dialogue, and the moderator will lead participants in a creative exercise to generate new language and insights. Please join us.
Moderator: Christina Conklin is an artist, writer, and researcher whose book, The Atlas of Disappearing Places: Our Coasts and Oceans in the Climate Crisis, will be published by The New Press in April 2021. Her sculptures, interactive installations, and participatory walks examine culture’s role within natural systems at this time of rapid change and ask people to engage with both personal and societal response-ability.
Joan Diamond is a leading scholar in the field of global systems change. She is Executive Director of the Millennium Alliance for Humanities and the Biosphere (MAHB) at Stanford, which works across disciplines to help solve interconnected global problems of overpopulation, growth-based economics, over consumption by the wealthy, and environmental degradation.
Steve Heilig is an expert on the intersection of public health and the environment and serves on the board of directors of Commonweal. He is also Director of Public Health and Education for the San Francisco Medical Society and co-Director of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, a leading education forum on health risks.
Samantha Suppiah is a urban sustainability strategist and engineer and an independent consultant now based in Southeast Asia after 12 years in Northern Europe. She is a leader in the Global Regnerative CoLab, which catalyzes resilience professionals and activists to co-create leadership teams working toward bioregional regeneration.
Ed Salzberg is the Founder and Director of the Security and Sustainability Forum, a Washington DC-based network of professionals from government, industry, and academia. An environmental scientist, Salzberg created the Forum a decade ago to convene global experts on food, water and energy security, public health, economic vitality, infrastructure, and governance.
Jason Groves is and assistant professor of Germanics at the University of Washington whose writings, translations, and conceptual art investigate the entanglement of humanity and geology. His latest book, The Geological Unconscious: German Literature and the Mineral Imaginary points toward alternative relations with, and less destructive uses of, this rock we inhabit.