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Navigating Uncertainty: Radical Rethinking for a Turbulent World

Ian Scoones (Institute of Development Studies)



Uncertainties are everywhere. Whether it’s climate change, financial volatility, pandemic outbreaks or new technologies, we don’t know what the future will hold. For many contemporary challenges, navigating uncertainty – where we cannot predict what may happen – is essential. But how is this done, and what can we learn from different contexts about responding to and living with uncertainty? Introducing a new book and drawing on experiences from across the world, the talk will explore themes of finance and banking, technology regulation, critical infrastructures, pandemics, natural disasters and climate change. The talk will contrast an approach centred on risk and control, where we assume we know about and can manage the future, with one that is more flexible, responding to uncertainty. The book argues that we need to adjust our modernist, controlling view and to develop new approaches, including some reclaimed and adapted from previous times or different cultures. This requires a radical rethinking of policies, institutions and practices for successfully navigating uncertainties in an increasingly turbulent world.


Ian Scoones will present key insights from his newest book Navigating Uncertainty: Radical Rethinking for a Turbulent World.



Ian Scoones is co-director of the ESRC STEPS Centre at Sussex and principal investigator of the ERC Advanced Grant project, PASTRES (Pastoralism, Uncertainty and Resilience: Lessons From the Margins).

He works on agrarian and environmental change, particularly in Africa. He has a particular interest in the connections between science, policy and the politics of sustainability. His long-term research on land, agricultural and livelihoods in Zimbabwe is covered in his regular blog, Zimbabweland. He is a member of the editorial collective of the Journal of Peasant Studies and on the editorial board of Ecology and Society.



October 10, 2024
5:45-7:15 pm (CET)



Global South Studies Center
University of Cologne
Room 2.51
Classen-Kappelmann-Strasse 24, ground floor, 50931 Köln