The Michel Serres Institute 2021 wishes
Remember, 2020 was dedicated to the youth, and this stands as a permanent concern for the Institute. On those lines and to go further, the Institute will change substance and rejuvenate its entire body.
Along 2020, COVID19 added a layer of constraints that make 2021 the downturn for state shifts in various areas of life. Beyond the individual antigenic test, Covid is testing who we really are. As a matter of fact, the virus is us.
The chosen keywords are encapsulated in the Covid alphabet and English-French couples of words illustrate the landscape of change. Those keywords are also the raw material of the Institute’s activity since 2012 : eight years later, the attached count-down analysis illustrates what has been accomplished (The decade ahead : science, power, resources, health, time). The starting paragraphs are below.
The decade ahead : science, power, resources, health, time. With or without a narrative.
The selective and even capricious acceptance of science and knowledge and the mistrust in public policies go sometimes hand in hand. They have frequently ended up in the avoidance or rejection of most, though rather shy, attempts to embark on ecological transition trajectories : departing from business as usual turned out a go-and-stop affair in public policies since decades. All this suggests that we are far from understanding the depth and extent of the downturn / swing over we are supposed to go through at this high time for a civilization bifurcation. Except for local spots of empowerment initiatives (Bennet et al, 2016), little or nothing in sight to tell when and where such a bifurcation is going to happen. And whether it would occur in a consented and coordinated manner.
Problems and facts being generally open, indeterminate, contested (Hulme, 2020), together with structural obstacles to overcome, what could be the actual ratchet or lever ?
Let us assume that the mission of science is working for the benefit of mankind and its life support systems. Today, science is expected to define where we stand and how and by what means can societies achieve sustainability. Is Science the ignition point of change ? But is it in the capacity to take on / up THAT challenge ?
Otherwise, narratives could be the answer, with values and science as the common language of trust and sense. We are not short of great narratives, but rather of clarification on the intrinsic goals of world readings, and the explicit overlaps and gaps between such theories and conceptions of society and the world.
Three issues and questions to better grasp the difficulty of the task and a dilemma - why or how ideas and initiatives are born, and subsequently thrive or die.
8 janvier 2021