Past Event

The Politics of Uncertainty – Practical Challenges for Transformative Action

From 03 Jul 2019 9:00 until 05 Jul 2019 16:00

Institute of Development Studies
Library Road

This international academic symposium, held at the Institute of Development Studies, will explore the theme of uncertainty – the STEPS Centre’s theme for 2019.

About the symposium

Thinking across diverse domains – from finance, to climate, to migration, to disease, to innovation, to infrastructure, to security – this symposium will explore the diverse ways incertitude is understood and responded to (or not).

By catalysing and developing richer and more nuanced understandings of incertitude, the symposium aims to help enable more robust actions, strategies and governance for these uncertain times.

Participation in this event is currently by invitation only, because of constraints on space and resources. For updates, please subscribe to the STEPS Centre newsletter.


Plenary speakers include

  • Dean Curran, University of Calgary
  • Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Silvio Funtowicz, University of Bergen
  • Gabe Mythen, University of Liverpool
  • Dipak Gyawali, Nepal Academy of Science and Technology
  • Brian Wynne, Emeritus Professor, University of Lancaster
  • Joy Zhang, University of Kent

Key themes

Download theme abstracts (PDF)

The symposium includes a set of themes related to uncertainty, convened by researchers with particular expertise in each theme, in four ‘clusters’ as follows:

Cluster 1

  • Finance and banking (Leon Wansleben, Max Plank Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne, and Timo Walter, University of Erfurt)
  • Insurance and liability (Leigh Johnson, University of Oregon)
  • Experimental, nodal, adaptive governance (Bernardo Rangoni, European University Institute, Florence)

Cluster 2

  • Technology policy, regulation and precaution (Patrick van Zwanenberg, CENIT, Argentina)
  • Critical infrastructures and reliability (Emery Roe, UC Berkeley)
  • Expanding cities (James Evans, University of Manchester)

Cluster 3

  • Climate change models and response (Lyla Mehta and Shilpi Srivastava, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex)
  • Disease outbreaks and preparedness (Melissa Leach and Hayley MacGregor, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex)
  • Disasters, humanitarianism and emergencies (Mark Pelling, King’s College London)

Cluster 4

  • Migration and mobility (Dorte Thorsen, University of Sussex)
  • Conflict, security, terrorism and crime (Gabe Mythen, University of Liverpool)
  • Culture, religion and perception (Rose Cairns, SPRU, University of Sussex)

UncertaintyThis symposium is the main event in the STEPS Centre’s Uncertainty theme in 2019.

Uncertainties can make it hard to plan ahead. But recognising them can help to reveal new questions and choices. What kinds of uncertainty are there, why do they matter for sustainability, and what ideas, approaches and methods can help us to respond to them?

Find out more about our theme for 2019 on the STEPS Centre’s Uncertainty theme page.

Key contacts

Nathan Oxley

Impact Communications and Engagement Officer


+44 (0)1273 915826


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