The summer has been a whirlwind of planning, but the fruits of all that activity are soon to bear fruit, as next week, we host the first-ever research symposium of the Sustainability Scholars’ Forum (SSF), on the theme of “Social Institutions and Sustainability.” The symposium will bring together 25 different scholars, and 20 works of research, which will examine issues of sustainability from a social scientific and humanist perspective. Our goal is to highlight the rich interdisciplinary work presently underway in the social sciences and humanities on this topic, which often gets missed amid the technical and natural sciences, so that we can begin to build bridges across different lines of scholarship and research.
The symposium will be held at the Community and Special Collection Rooms on the third floor of the Undergraduate Library (UGL), with a reception afterward at the McGregory Memorial Center.
My co-organizer (Dr. Alisa Moldavanova, from the Department of Political Science here at Wayne State U.) and I are also excited to welcome our amazing keynote speaker, Dr. Andrew Hoffman of the University of Michigan. Hoffman is the Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise, with a joint appointment in the Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources & Environment. Professor Hoffman’s research uses a sociological perspective to understand the cultural and institutional aspects of environmental issues for organizations. In particular, he focuses on the processes by which environmental issues both emerge and evolve as social, political and managerial issues. He has written extensively about: the evolving nature of field level pressures related to environmental issues; the corporate responses that have emerged as a result of those pressures, particularly around the issue of climate change; the interconnected networks among non-governmental organizations and corporations and how those networks influence change processes within cultural and institutional systems; the social and psychological barriers to these change processes; and the underlying cultural values that are engaged when these barriers are overcome. He has published over a dozen books, which have been translated into five languages. Most recently, he has published How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015).
Hoffman’s keynote lecture will be from 9.30-11 am at the Community Room, of the UGL. The keynote and all the symposium presentations are open and free to the public. You can tweet about us using the hashtag #SSF15.
Many thanks go out to our long list of sponsors at Wayne State University: the Humanities Center, Office of the Vice-President for Research, Dept. of Communication, Dept. of Political Science, and Dept. of Sociology. Thanks are also due to Critical Sociology journal, which will be releasing a special issue on the theme of “Social Institutions and Sustainability,” expected in print by 2017.