407.1 Two worldviews about human information and knowledge systems (HIKS). Towards an open knowledge democracy for global sustainability governance

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 4:15 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
J. David TABARA , Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, European Climate Forum - Autonomous University of Barcelona, Cerdanyola VallÚs (Barcelona), Spain
Ilan CHABAY , Helmholtz Alliance, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart,, Germany
Worldviews about the nature, purposes, and dynamics of Human Information and Knowledge Systems (HIKS) affect the nature, intended transformations and dynamics of global Social-Ecological Systems (SES) as well as our capacity to learn from and adapt to them. Modifying the core assumptions about HIKS –and the attendant practices related to these assumptions- is of paramount importance for the emergence of transformative pathways toward sustainability in research, education, and policy. In this paper, we identify and characterise two general ideal-type worldviews on HIKS and their relationships with SES within the contemporary Western science, education and policy domains.  One worldview understands information and knowledge systems as abstract constructions which evolve in a closed, ahistorical, and social-ecologically disembodied space. Under this worldview, the integration of different forms of knowledge demands their reduction to a single form of representation. The other worldview understands information and knowledge systems as operating in an open space composed of multiple, diverse patterns of hybrid social-ecological practices and configurations -inevitably embedded in specific social-ecological contexts. We argue that the open, but socio-ecologically embodied worldview, is necessary to support a societal transformation towards a knowledge democracy capable to support global sustainability governance. We base our points by using the insights obtained in the following international projects: ‘Global Systems Dynamics and Policy’ (GSDP; www.gsdp.eu), ‘Responses to Environmental & Societal Challenges for our Unstable Earth’ (RESCUE; www.esf.org/rescue); ‘Vision of Research & Development for Sustainable Development’ (VISION; www.visionRD4SD) and ‘Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change: Finding Paths To a Sustainable Future’ (KLSC; www.proclim.ch/4dcgi/klsc/en/newstype?klsc-news).