UCL Home

UCL ISR Seminar Series: Reclaiming Sustainability

17:30 - 20:00 20 March 2014

Location: Central House; Ground Level; 14 Upper Woburn Place, London. WC1H 0NN


Dr Ray Cuningham is a freelance writer and will be speaking at the UCL ISR Seminar Series in March.

Does ‘sustainability’ do it for you? Do you think it’s the key to overcoming the terrifying dangers threatening us – climate change, peak oil, growing conflicts over dwindling resources, mass social collapse caused by global and local inequalities? Or is it a frustratingly vague term which raises hopes but is ultimately impossible to define and therefore impossible to implement? – After all, something which we now find being used to sell us everything from ‘a sustainable return on your investment’  to ‘sustainable golf’ cannot possibly help us reverse out of the dead end down which we seem to be travelling ever faster….. can it?

This talk is intended to contribute to a process of reclaiming the term from dilution and abuse by demonstrating that it has real weight and depth, a rich little-known philosophical and technical history, and a precise and measurable meaning; and that it may, just possibly, offer the only realistic hope we have of averting collapse.

About the speaker: Dr Ray Cunningham is a freelance writer, editor, translator and consultant in British-German knowledge exchange, principally in the area of environmental policy. Before this he taught in the university sector in both Germany and Britain, worked in academic publishing for five years and for nearly twenty years (the last five of them as Director) for the Anglo-German Foundation for the Study of Industrial Society, a charity established by the British and German governments to fund bilateral research and knowledge exchange in economic, social and environmental policy. His website is at www.raycunningham.eu

Ray is joint Founder and Convenor of the British-German Environment Forum, Chair of the think tank Green House and an Associate of the London Publishing Partnership. He recently translated an important book on sustainability from the original German into English: it was published by Green Books in the UK in October 2012 as ‘Sustainability: A cultural history’, by Ulrich Grober. This book provides much of the material for this talk. Ray has given talks on this subject in Brighton and Bristol, at the universities of Surrey and Westminster, and at the NationalGoethe Museum in Weimar.

The seminar will start promptly at 5.30pm, please make sure you arrive in plenty of time.

The talk will be followed by Q & A session and a networking reception with drinks and nibbles.