CHSTM Research Seminar: 14 November 2023
Dr Sarah Dry, University of Cambridge
From the cradle of systems thinking to the birth of global climate: the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and beyond
In the 1960s, both critics of the global order and those charged with governing it (occasionally the same people) developed a broad concern with emergent, so-called global problems to which interdisciplinary solutions were then indicated as needed. Systems thinking developed as a key method for being interdisciplinary, spanning both the natural and social sciences and the increasingly fraught nexus between science and policy—what Alvin Weinberg influentially termed ‘trans-scientific issues,’ that is, issues that could be framed in terms of science but not answered by science. In the nurturing context of systems thinking, the global climate emerged from the tangle of global problems to be seen as a (if not the) key global governance challenge in the 1980s. In this paper, I’ll sketch a brief history of how this happened, with special attention to the role of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, established in 1972.
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