ESRC STEPS Centre & Uncertainty: Upcoming Symposium and Latest Papers

In 2019 the ESRC STEPS Centre is producing a set of resources and events to challenge and explore the role that uncertainty plays in global development.

Uncertainties can make it hard to plan ahead. But recognising them can help to reveal new questions and choices. What kinds of uncertainty are there, why do they matter for sustainability, and what ideas, approaches and methods can help us to respond to them?

The politics of uncertainty

The symposium The Politics of Uncertainty: Practical challenges for transformative action begins on 3 July. Thinking across diverse domains – including finance, climate, migration, disease, innovation, infrastructure, and security – this symposium will explore the diverse ways incertitude is understood and responded to (or not).

Participation in this event is currently by invitation only. Materials from the symposium will be available online after the event. Full details:

What is uncertainty and why does it matter?

In this paper, STEPS co-director Prof Ian Scoones examines five different ways of thinking about uncertainty, from societal, political, cultural, practice and individual perspectives. The paper outlines how these relate to the domains of finance and banking; critical infrastructures; disease outbreaks and climate change; and natural hazards and disasters. Uncertainty has important implications for thinking about progress, expertise, processes of change, social difference, and governance.

Uncertainty, politics and science

A series of three short essays by STEPS co-director Andy Stirling on how uncertainty is framed and closed down, how this framing is shaped by policy makers and those who advise them, and the implications for science and innovation.

Further information

More items and regular updates can be found in the STEPS Centre newsletter. The latest newsletter is here:

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