Speaking for the 'people disciplines': Global change science and its human dimensions



Publication Details

Castree, N. (2017). Speaking for the 'people disciplines': Global change science and its human dimensions. The Anthropocene Review, 4 (3), 160-182.


A number of global change scientists have been enjoining their peers to alter their modus operandi. Calls have been issued for more 'decision relevant' forms of inquiry more squarely focused on 'human dimensions' as societies enter a 'no analogue' planetary situation. This paper analyses the way certain geoscientists who study global change imagine the 'people disciplines' to be of relevance to their own endeavours. It reveals a rather narrow understanding of the social sciences to be in play, alongside a largely nominal inclusion of the humanities. The paper suggests reasons for this combination of partiality and omission, and suggests why a much wider and more plural understanding of human dimensions is important. This understanding, it is shown, should rebound on the human dimensions of global change science itself. Some suggestions for new encounters between geoscientists, environmental social scientists and humanists are offered. Around 30 years after the first global change research programmes were created, it is unfortunate that the wider social sciences and humanities are not more visible to, and engaged with, global change scientists. Their relative marginality is a long-run problem. Yet visibility and engagement are vital to avoid 'science imperialism' by default in our knowledge of people-planet interactions in the Anthropocene. One hopes that in less than a decade hence, visibility and engagement increase significantly.

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