Calculating the Climate

David L. Levy, Professor of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, talks about the hegemony of models and experts in climate.

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Climate adaptation is an effort to assess and manage the vulnerability of ecological, economic and social systems by estimating future climate risks and generating response strategies. This presentation reflects on a study of the organizational processes of adaptation in the high-risk coastal city of Boston, Massachusetts, and the political and economic implications. We describe how an assemblage of actors including municipal and state authorities, technical experts and consultants, and civil society organizations, generate risk constructs in particular ways that configure possible response strategies, with notable implications for equity and participation. We describe how adaptation processes are constituted of calculative practices - algorithms, instruments, models, market devices and experts - that are not neutral or objective, and that tend to privilege the interests of municipalities, property developers, and financial institutions, while marginalizing concerns of communities of color and low-income groups. These calculative practices are performative and political, and tend to render climate risks as manageable within technocratic frameworks, facilitating the continuation of 'business as usual'.  


David L. Levy is Professor of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and was a co-founder of the Sustainable Solutions Lab there. David, an Aspen Institute Faculty Pioneer Award Winner, conducts research on corporate and societal responses to climate change. His work explores strategic contestation over the governance and finance of controversial issues engaging business, governments, and NGOs, such as climate change and sustainability standards. David has spoken and published widely on these topics, for both academic and practitioner audiences.

LESS Group

This webinar is part of a new series launched by the new LESS research group and supported by CERIC.   

Currently we are all very concerned and stressed due to the Covid crisis. Putting the current crisis into a longer-term perspective, we might ask ourselves whether a political-economic and cultural system which struggles to deal with the Covid crisis will have the capacity to deal with the environmental crisis adequately. If your answer to this question is as pessimistic as ours, you might be interested in joining the LESS group — a new cross-divisional group at LUBS to explore system-level sustainability research, open to all researchers regardless of disciplinary background or prior experience in sustainability research.

We are inspired by a growing number of studies, which argue that the environmental crisis requires radical change of the political-economic and cultural structure within which organizations and individuals operate. The mission of the LESS group is to advance interdisciplinary efforts to develop system-level research that addresses the environmental emergency.

To join the LESS group please contact either of LESS' co-leaders:

Zlatko Bodrožić
Vera Trappmann

Find out more about forthcoming CERIC webinars. 

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