Climate Change Demands We Change. Why Aren't We?

31st Social Research Conference April 24-25, 2014

There is no more urgent issue than climate change, yet government, corporations, and the public are reluctant to change. In addition, while a great deal of research has been devoted to issues of engineering, architecture, land use, etc., as ways of mitigating the effects of climate change, very little attention has been paid to the ways psychological factors, money and politics, and infrastructures impede change. This conference examines these issues as well as the difficult choices that must be made to foster urban resilience. We aim to make clear how these factors can be overcome and identify areas in which more research is needed. Speakers include experts in the social sciences, philosophy, architecture, environmental engineering, city planning, politics, and business.


Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, delivered the keynote address, "How to Unleash Climate Action: Values, Politics, and the Inevitability of the Clean Energy Future,"  The keynote session was moderated by Daniel R. Tishman, Chairman and CEO of Tishman Construction, Vice Chairman of AECOM and Chairman of the Board at the Natural Resources Defense Council.


This conference also publicly launches C6, the Coalition to Confront Climate Change Challenges in Cities, a collaboration between New School faculty and students of all divisions and departments to initiate cross-disciplinary activities that support climate change mitigation and urban resilience. C6 will continue the work of the conference by focusing its efforts on the areas of research identified by the conference as requiring further exploration. This work will involve both students and faculty and The New School.


The conference has been made possible with generous support from the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation.


To order the related issue of Social Research: An International Quarterly

Climate Change Demands We Change. Why Aren't We? Vol 82, No. 3 (Fall 2015).



Thursday, April 24, 2014 

Session 1: Psychological Factors and Social Change

Decision-Making Challenges
Elke Weber, Jerome A. Chazen Professor of International Business and Earth Institute Professor, Columbia Business School; Member of Advisory Committee, National Academy of Sciences on Human Dimensions in Global Change
Explaining Climate Change for Informed and Effective Response 
Paul C. Stern, scholar, Board on Environmental Change and Society, National Research Council
Resistance to Change: Social Psychological Perspectives
John Jost, Professor of Psychology and Politics and Co-Director, Center for Social and Political Behavior, New York University; co-author, “The Mind of the Climate Change Skeptic,” APS Observer, Vol.26, No.4, April 2013
Experimental Insights: Testing Climate Change Decisions in the Lab
Jennifer Jacquet, Clinical Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies, New York University


Session 1: Discussion


Moderator: Emanuele Castano, Associate Professor of Psychology; Director of Cognitive, Social, and Developmental Psychology, The New School for Social Research

Session 2: The Physical City 


Structures of Coastal Resilience
Guy Nordenson, Structural Engineer, New York; Professor of Architecture and Engineering, Princeton University; advisor on MoMA's Rising Currents
Preventing the Worst, Managing the Rest 
Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Geosciences, Princeton University
The Ethics of Rebuilding on the Coast
Jerold Kayden, Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design
What’s Stopping the Transformation Around Energy? 
Steven Cohen, Executive Director, Columbia University’s Earth Institute; Professor in the Practice of Public Affairs, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs

Session 2: Discussion 


Moderator: Brian McGrath, Dean, School of Constructed Environments, Parsons The New School for Design; Founder and Principal, Urban-Interface, LLC



How to Unleash Climate Action: Values, Politics, and the Inevitability of the Clean Energy Future
Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council
Moderator: Daniel R. Tishman, Chairman and CEO, Tishman Construction; Vice Chairman, AECOM; Chairman of the Board, Natural Resources Defense Council

Friday, April 25, 2014

Session 4: Money and Politics

Robert Inglis, Executive Director, Energy and Enterprise Initiative; former Member, U.S. House of Representatives
Climate Change and Development
Robert O. Mendelsohn, Edwin Weyerhaeuser Davis Professor of Forest Policy; Professor of Economics; Professor, School of Management, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Investing in the Environment 
Charlotte Kaiser, Director of Innovative Finance, The Nature Conservancy
Divesting [and Investing] for the Environment 
Christina Leijonhufvud, Managing Partner, Tideline Advisors; former Managing Director of Social Finance, J.P. Morgan

Session 4: Discussion

Moderator: Bevis Longstreth, Lawyer; former Commissioner, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Member, Board of Trustees of The New School

Session 5: Difficult Choices

Environmental Justice
Dale Jamieson, Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, Affiliated Professor of Law, Director of Environmental Studies, New York University; author of Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle to Stop Climate Change Failed and Why Our Choices Still Matter (forthcoming) and Ethics and the Environment: An Introduction (Cambridge, 2008)
M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) for Our Time?
Russell Hardin, Helen Gould Shepard Professor in the Social Sciences; Professor of Politics, New York University
Climate Justice and the Struggle to Reduce Industrial Waterfront Vulnerability
Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance
Designing Solutions 
Claire Weisz, Adjunct Associate Professor of Planning, New York University; Founding Principal, Weisz Yoes; team leader, WXY+West 8 (one of ten international teams invited to participate in Rebuild by Design, a multistage design competition tasked with promoting resilience for the Sandy-affected region)

Session 5: Discussion

 Moderator: Joel Towers, Executive Dean and Associate Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design, Parsons The New School for Design

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