Climate scientists regularly emit dire warnings illustrating dangerous changes to the oceans and atmosphere. Considering how little is done to mitigate these changes, they profoundly fail to inspire widespread preventative action. There’s a lack of connection between the facts drawn from climate science and the immediate motivations required to drive active prioritisation of climate action.
This gap between fact and action is possibly most staggering at universities. As their academics publish one distressing fact after, universities largely continue with business as usual. This is arguably because climate science primarily originates from epistemologies that prioritise measurability and predictability of climate change rather than interpretative, subjective approaches that deal with people’s perceptions of change and their ability to respond. To do their work well researchers have to retain a degree of distance; and from a positivist position, scientists are expected to separate themselves entirely from their subject. In the case of climate change, where the researcher is inherently part of the social and climatological system that they are researching, such assumed separation and exemption of action is proving to become fatal.
We invited academics of all stripes --natural and exact sciences, social sciences and the arts & humanities-- to reinvent the role of the researcher to be reliable authors of facts, as well as pioneers in acting upon those facts. We explored what it means to be impacted by and embedded in our research whilst retaining a degree of scientific distance and composure. How can we be a researcher/scientist, as well as a parent, community member and essentially human living in these increasingly complex times? What are the unique attributes that a researcher brings to this matter and what (new) epistemologies fit this reimagined position?