Interdisciplinary workshop 29 May to 2 June 2012, Germany (Bielefeld University: Center for Interdisciplinary Research).
- Call for Papers: closed
- General workshop website
- Frequently asked questions
- Programme of workshop
- List of keynotes
Call for Papers
People manage their environments, all of us in everyday life, and some more specifically as professionals. Many of the decisions we take and activities we practice, both in everyday life and in professional roles, have multiple and heterogeneous consequences for our environments. Yet, often a particular set of practices is delineated as environmental management and assumed to contribute to "sustainability". In this workshop, however, we will discuss environmental management as a practice, as a situated unfolding of social relationships, desires, routines, and materials. Thereby, we aim to gain insight into some of the processes by which sustainability and unsustainability are being produced (Blühdorn and Welsh 20071).
In previous analyses, the agency of environmental managers has usually been rendered as a "black box" (Latour 19872), a machinery assumed to produce the desired effects at least to a certain extent and therefore unnecessary to unpack and open up: Researchers, managers and other practitioners are presented as executing plans and policies more or less successfully. Yet, when attending to what happens in these critical processes, this assumption does not hold (Boons and Mendoza 20103). Therefore, the workshop aims to look into this black box from three perspectives.
First, we will approach environmental management not as the domain solely of those whose education or job description defines them as “environmental managers.” To engage with the diversity and multiplicity of practices through which we relate to and intervene into our environments and to grasp the ways in which particular sets of practices are shaped and sustained, we have to acknowledge that environmental management includes the actions of various other people and entities, too. Scientists, for instance, who gather and analyze particular data in a particular way, producing and reproducing certain images of the “natural world,” its functions and its problems, are crucial in this process. Also, engineers and development practitioners, who devise means of addressing these problems, take part in environmental management, as much as do teachers, who present a particular image of environmental problems and solutions to their students, as well as politicians, journalists, and indeed all of us. Our personal ideas and experiences of the environment and our manifold ways of interacting with it every day – from shopping, heating, water use and transport, to waste management, taking a walk outside or signing a petition for or against a particular development project – all these activities make us “environmental managers” in this wider sense.
Second, the workshop will unpack the black box of environmental management by attending closely to the practices which constitute it, because human actions are only rarely mere executions of pre-defined ideas and plans. Instead, actions come into being in a continuous nexus of desires, skills, affordances, limitations and compromises with other actors, ideas and materials (Pickering 19954, Ingold 20005). However, rather than plans being abstractions remote from practice, planning, referencing plans in negotiations with other actors and evaluating situations in comparison with plans clearly are central modes of action not only in professionalised management practice in Western contexts (Suchman 20076).
Third, intervening in processes of the non-human environment can never be the “control” of certain phenomena, but necessarily implies an engagement with and negotiation of these phenomena (Ingold 20107, Krause (2011)8). Just as much as practices are shaped by the specific social context in which they evolve, they are fundamentally influenced by the non-human processes they are dealing with. In her study on the implementation of EU agri-environmental policy on Finnish farms, for instance, Kaljonen (20069) finds that the agency of the managers, farmers in this case, emerges out of the relationships of the farmers with their fields, with the policy schemes, their senses and performance of identity, and the particular lay-out and organization of their farms.
If we understand environmental management realistically not as the control of certain processes according to a pre-defined plan, but as the engagement with and negotiation of these processes motivated by particular goals and desires, then we must ask how such engagement and negotiation is done in practice. How do people “manage” their environments in everyday life? How do those who are explicitly considered environmental managers understand their mission, opportunities and limitations? How do practices in other fields, such as science, engineering, politics and development, contribute to, and resonate with, the work of these managers? How do particular forms of knowledge, organizations and implementation instruments structure the engagement of the “manager” and her subject matter? And how does this subject matter itself figure as an active participant in the process?
We recognise the crucial importance of exploring and developing ways of dealing with our environments that do not reproduce the well-established politics, economies and technologies of environmental destruction and disempowerment. We see environmental management, in its wider sense, as both a focal aspect of such destructive processes (albeit frequently under a “green” discourse, see Lippert (201110)), and as an arena for potential departure from unsustainable practices and paradigms. Therefore, in this workshop we aim to take seriously the actual practices of "managing" environments as well as the positions of environmental managers, acknowledging the fundamentally situated character of their activities, and pointing to the significance of concrete practices for bringing technologies, strategies and sustainable or unsustainable relations into being.
For the interdisciplinary workshop How do you manage? Unraveling the situated practice of environmental management, 29 May to 2 June 2012 ( 2012 !!! ), Germany (Bielefeld University: Center for Interdisciplinary Research), the Environment, Management and Society Research Group (http://www.ems-research.org) welcomes:
Papers, posters and contributions in less conventional forms (e.g. using audiovisual media) critically engaging with environmental management practices (understood widely as outlined above) from fields such as, but not limited to, Anthropology, Critical Management Studies, Environmental & Sustainability Management, Environmental History, Environmental Sociology, Environmental Studies, Geography, Organisation Studies, Sociology of Knowledge, Science and Technology Studies as well as from practising environmental managers, consultants, environmental scientists and activists. We particularly encourage submissions by early career researchers and practitioners reflecting on their own work.
To stimulate the engagement with each others' work and fruitful discussion, each participant is expected to read in advance and comment on one paper. There will also be seminar sessions to "draw things together" and discuss links both among the contributions of a panel and between the contributions and recent developments in our respective academic and professional fields.
Early stage researchers are welcome to join a preparatory session for the workshop starting midday of the 28th of May.
Moreover, the workshop will include talks and responses to selected papers by as well as seminars and discussions with (confirmed)
- Kristin Asdal (Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, Oslo University),
- Werner Krauss (Helmholtz Center Geesthacht, Institute of Coastal Research),
- Kenneth Olwig (Department for Landscape Architecture, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences),
- Lucy Suchman (Centre for Science Studies/Department of Sociology, Lancaster University) and
- Claire Waterton (Centre for the Study of Environmental Change/Department of Sociology, Lancaster University).
Complete papers are expected by 29 February 2012. Please submit the abstract as plain text or in an rtf-file.
We intend to publish revised versions of papers given at the workshop as an edited volume and are in touch with academic publishers. When submitting your abstract, please indicate whether you would be interested in having your contribution published in this way.
Additionally to the workshop, we reserved June 3rd to discuss the structure and practicalities of this edited volume. You are invited to join this process.
Depending on funding, we may be able to cover travel expenses and accommodation including full board, but this is not confirmed.
The Environment, Management and Society Research Group converges around a common research interest in the realities of environmental management, and a shared concern that a substantial share of it does not contribute to ecologically and socially more sustainable ways of life. With backgrounds in anthropology, environmental sciences, science and technology studies, and sociology, we are engaging critically with existing practices of environmental management, and we are developing approaches for better understanding the dynamics involved in knowing and changing the environment. Find out more about us at http://www.ems-research.org/members
20 January 2012: Deadline for response to ZiF
29 February 2012: Deadline for completed papers
28 May 2012: Informal opening
29 May 2012: Start of workshop, 9am
02 June 2012: End of workshop, 5:30pm
- 1. "Eco-politics beyond the Paradigm of Sustainability: A Conceptual Framework and Research Agenda." Environmental Politics 16 (2007): 185-205.
- 2. Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society In Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1987.
- 3. "Constructing sustainable palm oil: how actors define sustainability." Journal of Cleaner Production 18 (2010): 1686-1695.
- 4. The mangle of practice: Time, agency, and science. University of Chicago Press, 1995.
- 5. The Perception of the Environment: Essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill. London, New York: Routledge, 2000.
- 6. Human-machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Action In Human-machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Action. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, 2007.
- 7. "The textility of making." Cambridge Journal of Economics (2010).
- 8. "River management. Technological challenge or conceptual illusion? Salmon weirs and hydroelectric dams on the Kemi River in Northern Finland." In Implementing Environmental and Resource Management, edited by M. Schmidt, V. Onyango and D. Palekhov. Springer, 2011.
- 9. "Co-construction of agency and environmental management. The case of agri-environmental policy implementation at Finnish farms." Journal of Rural Studies 22 (2006): 205-216.
- 10. "Sustaining Waste - Sociological Perspectives on Recycling a Hybrid Object." In Implementing Environmental and Resource Management, edited by M. Schmidt, V. Onyango and D. Palekhov, 283-306. Springer, 2011.