Conferences, Forums and Symposiums

Conference // Nexus Thinking

The theme for the 2016 Annual Conference (AC2016) of the Royal Geographical Society (UK) is nexus thinking, an approach that has attracted a surge of interest in the last five years among academics, policy-makers and third sector organizations. The aim of nexus thinking is to address the interdependencies, tensions and trade-offs between different environmental and social domains – an approach to which geographers might feel an inherent attraction. Rather than seeing energy, food and water resources as separate systems, for example, nexus thinking focuses on their interconnections, favouring an integrated approach that moves beyond national, sectoral, policy and disciplinary silos to identify more efficient, equitable and sustainable use of scarce resources.

Where and when

Exhibition Road/Kensington Gore

Chair's Plenary Lectures

Meeting Nexus Challenges: from policy connections to political transformations

Andrew Stirling (University of Sussex, UK)
Tuesday 30 August 2016, 18.15, Ondaatje Theatre.

The advent of ‘nexus thinking’ in current global change research and policy, has drawn welcome attention to many neglected connectivities. From familiar and trivial, to unfamiliar and profound, these span: between sectors; across scales; joining jurisdictions; mingling human, biological and physical; and linking framings of knowledge with directions for action. Perhaps the most important, are those between existing configurations of power, privilege and incumbency and ways in which understandings, imaginations and aspirations are shaped concerning what is reasonable or possible. Based on efforts in the ESRC’s Nexus Network, this talk will explore some deeper connotations – and practical implications for research and action.

Discussants: David Demeritt (King’s College London, UK); Gail Davies (University of Exeter, UK)


Did the pathogen speak? Plants, chemicals, land and workers in the making and unmaking of California’s strawberry industry

Julie Guthman (University of California Santa Cruz, USA)
Wednesday 31 August 2016, 13.10, Ondaatje Theatre.

With its pathogen ridden soils, debt-ridden farmers and underpaid workers, and high reliance on toxic chemicals, California’s strawberry industry is surely an exemplar of a nexus in which livelihoods, public health, environmental sustainability, and profit are in tension. In this talk I will refrain from the “grand challenge” talk of nexus thinking and instead provide a more modest and specific rendering of how the human and nonhuman materials and forces that came together to make the strawberry industry so successful are now the bases of threats. These threats portend major changes in the ways strawberries will be produced, precisely because they are co-evolved and relational so that one concatenates with another.  Beginning with the pathogen, this talk will describe five of these threats, with nods to both old and new materialisms. I will end by suggesting that any resolutions to nexus tensions are necessarily (bio)political – a reflection of whose and what lives appear to count.

Discussants: Mara Miele (Cardiff University, UK); Jamie Lorimer (University of Oxford, UK)

The Ghost in the Nexus: Global Poverty and the Dilemmas of Development

Ananya Roy (University of California Los Angeles, USA)
Thursday 1 September 2016, 13.10, Ondaatje Theatre

In this talk, I situate “nexus thinking” in the present conjuncture of sustainable development and in the long history of development as a global project.  In doing so, I pay attention to the disciplines and professions that are being mobilized to solve urgent human problems, specifically that of poverty.  Framed as scientific solutions towards a better world, such frameworks of action are also replete with distinctive aspirations and affects.  Foregrounding the figure of the millennial – college students and young professionals enrolled in the global university and enlisted in the work of poverty action – I examine the potentialities and limits of the will to make poverty history, and thereby of nexus thinking.

Discussants: Jennifer Robinson (University College London, UK); Parvati Raghuram (The Open University, UK)

Towards a sustainable prosperity – flourishing within environmental limits

Tim Jackson (University of Surrey, UK)
Friday 2 September 2016, 13.10, Ondaatje Theatre

What can prosperity possibly mean in a world of environmental and social limits?  The debate on limits to growth is now more than four decades old. But recent experience offers new insights into the challenge. This talk starts from a critical examination of the conventional vision. But it also explores the possibilities for moving beyond it. In particular, it makes the case that articulating a ‘sustainable prosperity’ is a precise, definable, pragmatic and meaningful task. It outlines the dimensions of a ‘post-growth’ economy and explores a vision for the good life defined by the possibilities of having ‘more fun with less stuff’.

Discussants: David Evans (The University of Manchester, UK); Jo Little (University of Exeter, UK)

Source: RSG-IBG Website

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