Sustainability and the Good Life
Open Panel Debate
What does it mean to live a good life in a time when the human population keeps on growing, the oil age is coming to an end, the climate is changing, the oceans are turning more acidic, and fertile soils the world over are eroding?
These and other simultaneous threats lead many to seek creative responses at several levels of consideration and action. Lighter individual lifestyles are being experimented with as much as is bioregional citizenship, national and international distributive justice, and the question of active green resistance to the dominant power structures. These adaptations are emerging as increasingly noteworthy and critical research topics. Building on specialist expertise of different researchers and research institutions across the Nordic countries, this doctoral course seeks to confront these topics by exploring the above question, and also these: Where do contemporary visions of the sustainable good life come from? What functions do they serve? How are they expressed in current transition processes? Is a sustainable and satisfying life possible for all?
We have invited four illustrious speakers to reflect on these issues, and challenge one another.
Lawrence Buell is Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature Emeritus and Research Professor at Harvard University. He is also the 2012 Arne Næss Chair-holder at the Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo. His books include New England Literary Culture (1986), The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture (1995), Writing for an Endangered World (2001), Emerson (2003), The Future of Environmental Criticism (2005), and (ed. with Wai-Chee Dimock) Shades of the Planet: American literature as World Literature (2007). He is a Mellon Fellow, a former Guggenheim Fellow, two-time National Endowment for the Humanities senior research fellow, and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2007 he was received the Modern Language Association’s Jay Hubbell Award for lifetime contributions to American Literature scholarship.
Kate Soper is Emerita Professor of Philosophy attached to the Institute for the Study of European Transformations at London Metropolitan University, and a Visiting Humanities Professor at Brighton University. She worked as a journalist and translator before becoming a full-time academic. She has published widely on environmental philosophy, aesthetics of nature, theory of needs and consumption, and cultural theory. Her more recent writings include What is Nature? Culture, Politics and the Non-Human (1995), To Relish the Sublime: Culture and Self-Realisation in Postmodern times (with Martin Ryle, 2002); Citizenship and Consumption (co-editor, 2007) and The Politics and Pleasures of Consuming Differently (co-editor, 2008). She has been a member of the editorial collectives of Radical Philosophy and New Left Review and a regular columnist for the US journal, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism.
Karen O’Brien is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo. Her research on global environmental change emphasizes both adaptation and transformation; she is particularly interested in how account beliefs, values and worldviews influence responses and can contribute to changes in behaviors and systems to promote sustainability.
Thomas Hylland Eriksen is a social anthropologist whose work on the quality of life is less known than his research on globalization and identity politics, but he has written on the topic for years, often in a comparative perspective, questioning commonly held assumptions about, and conceptualizations of, development.
The debate will be hosted by prof. Harold Wilhite, of the Centre for Development and the Environment.
It is going to take place in English.