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Changing the intellectual climate

Abstract

Calls for more broad-based, integrated, useful knowledge now abound in the world of global environmental change science. They evidence many scientists' desire to help humanity confront the momentous biophysical implications of its own actions. But they also reveal a limited conception of social science and virtually ignore the humanities. They thereby endorse a stunted conception of 'human dimensions' at a time when the challenges posed by global environmental change are increasing in magnitude, scale and scope. Here, we make the case for a richer conception predicated on broader intellectual engagement and identify some preconditions for its practical fulfilment. Interdisciplinary dialogue, we suggest, should engender plural representations of Earth's present and future that are reflective of divergent human values and aspirations. In turn, this might insure publics and decision-makers against overly narrow conceptions of what is possible and desirable as they consider the profound questions raised by global environmental change.

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Acknowledgements

N.C. acknowledges the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER) for supporting the conception and completion of this article. D.B. acknowledges the Economic and Social Research Council (awards RES 070-27-0035 and RES 000-27-0174) for supporting research generative of some ideas contained in this article. Finally, the authors thank M. Hulme for his assistance.

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Contributions

N.C. wrote the first and second drafts of this article, with detailed editorial assistance from W.M.A., D.B., D.D., L.R. and D.S. On both occasions all the other authors contributed substantive insights and made numerous suggestions for improvement that were incorporated into the final version.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Noel Castree.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Castree, N., Adams, W., Barry, J. et al. Changing the intellectual climate. Nature Clim Change 4, 763–768 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2339

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2339

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