January 17 is the 53rd monthly meeting for Systems Thinking Ontario.

Please RSVP at Eventbrite.

Behaviour Change for Climate Change - Systems Thinking Connections

Happy New Year! Revelry, reverie, renewal, reflection and resolve – a celebration of life, in all its possibilities; or, a stark reminder that our years - indeed, our days - are numbered? Either way, why should the turning over of a calendar date animate, in and of itself, such social and psychological exertions across the globe?  Can a better understanding of these questions activate a more just and sustainable future – and possibly combat climate change in the process?  Join Systems Thinking Ontario this January for some riveting dialogue on creating and maintaining truly profound change on a global scale.

University of Waterloo PhD Candidates Sophie Sanniti and Katie Kish will lead the charge by offering some intriguing insight into the inner workings of social systems and the role of cultural worldviews and norms in relation to (un)sustainable behaviour and practices.  Do existing social and cultural systems play a role in promoting or deterring climate action? According to cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, our relationships to each other and to the world are, in part, unconscious expressions of our relationship with mortality.  And our  symbolic meaning systems - cultural worldviews - represent 'immortality ideologies' having the power to assuage  existential fear and anxiety.  Particularly problematic, where climate and environment are concerned, are those ideologies that promote and sustain vapid consumerism, fossil fuel dependence, pathologically conceived growth economics and irrational denials of climate change. Terror Management Theory (TMT),  inspired by Becker’s ideas, has demonstrated, through controlled experiments, that money, materialism and brand association are all successful methods for quelling existential anxiety. And so the story goes, in order to adequately respond to the climate crisis, we must establish alternative meaning systems that foster environmental stewardship and nurture a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship.  Please join us in a discussion of how learnings from TMT might constructively inform and influence the emergence of new life-affirming ideologies, more fully inclusive of all the Earth’s potential.

Katie Kish: Katie is a PhD student at the University of Waterloo. She studies imaginative political-economies for a post-growth world with a special interest in the role of meaning frameworks and community for behavioural change. She is a research fellow for the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience.

Sophie Sanniti: Sophie is currently pursuing a PhD in Social and Ecological Sustainability at University of Waterloo. In questioning the growth paradigm, she is grounding her research in the discipline of economic anthropology in order to investigate the complex nature of the human economy and better understand the social and cultural basis of economic behaviour. Sophie remains an active participant in the academic research partnership Economics for the Anthropocene.


Suggested pre-reading: 


Post-meeting artifacts

Bloggers are encouraged to write about their learning and experiences at the meeting. Links will be added to this page.

OCADU: Strong turnout for @sophiesanniti on Behaviour Change for Climate Change, Systems Thinking Ontario 53rd monthly meeting, first of the year. Early research into Terror Management Theory, derived from Ernest Becker (1973) Denial of Death. (Lambert Lounge, OCADU, McCaul Street, Toronto, Ontario) 20180117