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Tackling sustainability & social injustice issues: Debating contributions of social scientists

Wednesday 24th February 2016, 2 - 4pm, Docklands Campus (EB.1.105)

This participative seminar will start with an interactive presentation between the co-directors with the intention of stimulating a discussion on how social scientists can address social injustices, with a focus on sustainability or living sustainability. Our presentation will be structured around our Centre’s Beckton initiative about sustainable living as one key study to get us to problematise our role as social scientists. The presentation will include an account of inequalities related to environmental, economic and social sustainable living and a brief history of the construction of community gardens in Beckton and our related civic engagement activities. This is one of the research/civic engagement fields our centre is engaging in and we propose it  only as a locus from where our collective problematisation could depart. Issues to discuss could be:
  • How a locally-based social sciences-led action research initiative might look like? How would it integrate/distinguish from disciplines such as education, psychology, health and other professions which run high profile and internationally leading projects?
  • In view of the huge social, economic and environmental problems behind the call for "sustainability", is the problematisation of the "local" sufficient ground without a correspondent conceptualisation of the global? And how would the connection of the two affects our local positioning in research/civil engagement as social scientists?
  • Considering how, as a new School, we might conceptualise and give meaning to the term ‘civic engagement’ and how initiatives might be linked to student learning and critical thinking, and how participants in civic engagement projects might be involved in School activities as equal partners?
These are only three of the possible issues we could discuss. We hope our meeting will identify other issues which we could begin to reflect on. Participants will also have the opportunity for debate and discussion in small groups over tea and coffee. We will come together before wine is served to discuss ‘burning issues’ and to suggest ideas for social justice and possibilities for social improvement.

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