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Call for Papers: 2002 Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change; Deadline for Submissions expires 31 July
by Sabine Campe
22 July 2002 18:04 UTC
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----C A L L   F O R   P A P E R S--------------------


"Knowledge for the Sustainability Transition: The Challenge for Social Science"

Berlin, 6-7 December 2002

The Environmental Policy and Global Change Section of the German Political 
Science Association (DVPW) invites papers for the 2002 Berlin Conference on the 
Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, to be held in Berlin on 6-7 
December 2002. This year's discussions will address the theme "Knowledge for 
the Sustainability Transition: The Challenge for Social Science". The 2002 
Berlin Conference has been endorsed by the Institutional Dimensions of Global 
Environmental Change core project of the International Human Dimensions 
Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), and is organised by the Global 
Governance Project of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) 
in co-operation with the Environmental Policy Research Unit of the Free 
University of Berlin.

Plenary speakers include Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental 
Panel on Climate Change; Oran Young, chair of the IHDP Institutional Dimensions 
of Global Environmental Change project; and John Schellnhuber, director of PIK 
and research director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.


The global environmental crisis--from stratospheric ozone depletion to local 
water pollution--serves to emphasize anew the role of knowledge in political 
decision-making. Many observers view the existing knowledge base as 
insufficient for a world-wide transition to sustainability. But how can we do 
better? Do we need new kinds of knowledge or new ways to generate knowledge, 
for instance through a fundamental overhaul of the way we conduct scientific 
research? How could social and scientific institutions be designed, and 
possibly reformed, to generate sustainability-relevant knowledge? And what are 
the effects of the current knowledge base, and the ways it is generated and 
distributed, on societal decision-making on environmental protection? Within 
this general framework, we invite papers for the 2002 Berlin Conference on one 
of three sets of questions:


First, we invite papers that conceptualise the knowledge base for the 
sustainability transition as something that is affected by political 
decision-making. We seek papers, in particular, that analyse ways in which 
national and international politics and institutions influence the way 
sustainability knowledge is generated, distributed and used by actors. Papers 
could address, for example, ways in which political systems influence 
scientific research for the sustainability transition, including policies that 
shape the development and safe use of new technologies both harmful and 
beneficial to the sustainability transition. We also invite papers that examine 
the distribution and utilisation of knowledge, from scientific information to 
technical expertise, and that seek to explain the role of political 
institutions and political and societal actors in these knowledge-generation 

Second, and interrelated with the first point, we invite papers that view 
knowledge as a factor that affects and influences political decision-making. It 
has long been argued that not only power and interests, but also ideas, 
discourses or belief systems influence the outcome of political 
decision-making. We thus solicit papers that present cutting-edge research on 
these questions and that analyse, in particular, the ways in which existing 
knowledge--from scientific information to more general ideas, discourses or 
belief systems--affects the ways in which political actors respond to the 
global environmental crisis. Are there dominant discourses and ideas that 
prevent us from reaching a more sustainable development? Does 'science' and 
modern technology in itself lead to unsustainable development paths--and how 
can democratic political institutions manage to live with, for example, the 
Genie of modern nuclear and molecular technologies?

Third, we invite papers from fellow social scientists that respond to the 
challenges raised by recent thinkers who have argued for fundamental changes in 
the way science is conducted--thinkers who have put forward integrative 
concepts such as 'earth system analysis', 'syndromes of global change' or 
'sustainability science'. It has been maintained, for example, that a new 
'sustainability science' must bridge the local-global divide and must include 
interdisciplinary research that is concerned with multiple scales and multiple 
actors--how would this affect social science, for example the divide between 
scholars of international relations and comparative environmental politics? 
Also, it has been suggested that a sustainability science would require joint 
efforts of experts and stakeholders from a variety of regions and backgrounds: 
does the current practice of stakeholder involvement live up to the 
requirements of sustainability science? In a similar vein, new initiatives 
strive to better integrate colleagues from developing countries and to build-up 
independent research capacities in the South--how will this affect the way 
social science is conducted in the North? Sustainability science, finally, is 
envisaged as inherently problem-driven in a way that defines academic puzzles 
from the practitioners' side, not from the autonomous theory-building research 
process. How would this affect social science? We welcome innovative and 
(self-)critical papers on these questions, and hope to stir up debate within 
the social science community. In addition, we intend to provide some open space 
during the conference to engage in informal debate among participants on these 
broader questions.


The 2002 Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental 
Change is the second of its kind in Germany. The last meeting--the 2001 Berlin 
Conference--gathered 166 participants from 28 countries for a two-day 
discussion on the role of the nation state in global environmental change. 
While the Berlin Conferences are organised by the German Political Science 
Association, we seek dialogue with colleagues from other fields of social 
science as well as related expertise from natural and integrative sciences, and 
welcome representatives of these disciplines too.

The conference will be held in English. Prospective paper-givers should send an 
abstract of their paper of less than 200 words (including name, affiliation and 
full address of presenters) in the body of an e-mail (no e-mail attachments, 
please) to the conference office at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact 
Research (berlin-conference@pik-potsdam.de). We also invite the submission of 
full panels of not more than three presenters, in particular panels that 
represent different geographic, disciplinary or theoretical backgrounds, or 
different stages in career development. Pre-registration is required.


The deadline for submissions is 31 July 2002. All paper and panel submissions 
will be reviewed before being accepted for the conference programme. We will 
send out decisions on acceptance of papers by 14 August 2002. We expect all 
presenters to e-mail the final version of their paper by 29 November. Full 
papers submitted earlier will be posted on our web site to initiate early 


We are making all efforts to ensure funding to reimburse the travel costs of 
paper presenters. For the 2001 Berlin Conference, generous donor support 
allowed us to reimburse parts of the travel costs of many non-German 


Further information about the 2002 Berlin Conference will be posted at 
www.environmental-policy.de. For questions or suggestions, please contact 

* Frank Biermann, Chair, DVPW Environmental Policy and Global Change Section 
(biermann@pik-potsdam.de), or 
* Sabine Campe, Manager, 2002 Berlin Conference (sabine.campe@pik-potsdam.de).

Sabine Campe
Manager, 2002 Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change

c/o Global Governance Project
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
P.O. Box 60 12 03
14412 Potsdam

facsimile ++49-(0)331-288 2640
e-mail: sabine.campe@pik-potsdam.de
http://www.environmental-policy.de click on 'conference'

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