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The Role of the Social Sciences Facing the Environmental Crisis

by Richard Meckien - published Oct 15, 2014 04:45 PM - - last modified Oct 31, 2014 10:33 AM
Rights: Carlos Malferrari (translator)

Heide Hackman
Heide Hackmann

The role of the social sciences in understanding the causes and consequences of global environmental change and in developing effective, fair and sustainable solutions to the problem will be discussed at the conference “Changing Global Environments,” organized by IEA’s Quality of Democracy Research Group and the Center for Public Policy Research (NUPPs) of the University of São Paulo, on October 24, at 2 pm (GMT -2), in Events Room of IEA. The event will be conducted in English.

The keynote speaker will be Heide Hackmann, executive director of the International Social Science Council (ISSC), and panel members will include professors Eduardo Marques, from USP’s School of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences (FFLCH); Eduardo Viola, from the Institute of International Relations, University of Brasilia (UnB); and Peter Jacobi, from USP’s School of Education (FE) and coordinator of IEA’s Research Group Environment and Society. The event will be moderated by José Álvaro Moisés, professor at FFLCH, scientific director of NUPPs and coordinator of the research group.

During the conference, Hackmann will present the third edition of the “World Social Science Report,” produced with the collaboration of over 150 scientists from around the world and as a partnership between the ISSC, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The document emphasizes that social and environmental problems are inseparable and mutually reinforcing. It thus highlights the strategic role of the social sciences in formulating innovative policies and stimulating the social changes necessary to build a more sustainable future.

In the introduction, the Report states that “through engaged research, [the social sciences] can help society as a whole understand the nature and scope of the changes required at individual, organizational and systemic levels, and how such changes could be realized in politically feasible and culturally acceptable ways.”

Cartaz Relatorio Mundial Ciências Socias

The Report makes an eloquent appeal for social scientists to engage more deeply in matters related to global environmental changes; to focus on finding answers to real world issues; to carry out collaborative and interdisciplinary studies; and to involve in this process those who will benefit from their research.


Heide Hackmann, executive director of ISSC, has a Ph.D. in Studies of Science and Technology from the University of Twente, Netherlands, and a Master’s degree in Contemporary Social Theory from University of Cambridge, UK. Since the 1990s, she has worked as consultant and researcher in the field of international science policy. Her current research focuses on science policies, governance of science and evaluation of research.

The event will be broadcast live on the web.