Ludwig Weh, Fraunhofer IMW; Allie E.S. Wist, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute;
Environmental futures have evolved from rational-analytical / empirical-predictive to ethical-normative / critical-interpretative and creative-imaginary / activist-visionary approaches (Slaughter 1993). Resulting images as in environmental assessments, ecosystem scenarios or climate fiction are covering the spectrum of these underlying epistemologies in assessing desirable human-nature relationships. Established concepts such as the IPCC Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, the IPBES Nature Futures Framework or the Seeds of Good Anthropocenes Initiative are further illustrating this spectrum. Building on prior discussions within 4s, this panel focuses on qualitative research inquiring how environmental futures shape images of desirable human-nature relationships. This may embrace participatory and co-creative designs as well as inclusion, collaboration, integration, usability, reflexivity as elements of good transdisciplinary research (Polk 2015) or reflexive pragmatism motivating researchers to actively involve for future-oriented real-world interventions (Gergen 2014). Following the critical, affective, relational, posthuman or practice turns in STS and especially the environmental humanities, panel contributions may blend natural sciences with social sciences and creative/speculative such as design-based approaches. In an interdisciplinary science-art framework they may focus on narrative/storied, visual, sonic, object-based or other forms of assessing (non-)anthropocentric images of environmental futures. As the conference honors (historically contested) metaphors and materialities of sea, sky and land, panel contributions may also explore encounters and convergences between abstract Western scientific / dualist thought and local, tacit, culturally embodied ways of knowing as in non-scientific or Indigenous knowledge. This may reflect predominant relations of epistemic power while imagining new ways of co-creating environmental futures as caring and mindfully transformative practice (van Dooren 2015).