Public lectures at NUI Galway on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 May, will look at our throwaway culture, and ask what a future with everyone living more sustainably might look like.
Philosopher Kate Soper, from London Metropolitan University will provide a public lecture entitled Towards an alternative prosperity? Irish “belatedness” and the politics of consumption on Friday 18 May, from 4.30-5.30pm in the Engineering Building at NUI Galway.Author of the book The Politics and Pleasures of Consuming Differently, Soper believes that we need to rethink how we live in the light of impending environmental catastrophe. Her core argument is that alternative ways of living can be more enjoyable than consumerism and this leads to her notion of alternative hedonism.
A second public lecture on the topical issue of sustainable consumption will be delivered at 12 noon on Saturday, 18 May, in the Engineering Building by Elizabeth Shove, Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University. Professor Shove’s area of expertise is the relationship between consumption, everyday life, sustainability and ordinary technology. She is co-author of the book The Design of Everyday Life which looks at the design of common household products through to their use in the home.
The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion by a group of top US and European academics on the futures of sustainable consumption research. This panel discussion will take place from 2pm until 4pm on Saturday afternoon in the same venue.
These lectures are part of an international conference, ‘Challenging Consumption: Pathways to a More Sustainable Future’ which NUI Galway is hosting from 18-20 May. The event brings together leading researchers to discuss current practices, challenges and futures for research in the area of sustainable consumption.
The conference is part of the Consensus project, a four-year research project involving collaboration between NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin. Funded by the EPA STRIVE Programme, the project is the first of its kind to look at sustainable consumption on the island of Ireland.
The Consensus project focuses on four key areas of household consumption that impact negatively on the environment: transport, energy, water and food. This research is exploring how a shift towards more sustainable consumption might be encouraged, measured and governed. Therefore, one of the key outputs of this research is to make recommendations for local and national programmes concerning sustainable consumption policies.
According to the Consensus project manager Dr Frances Fahy, Lecturer in Geography at NUI Galway: “Our conference is intended to explore opportunities for future research collaborations and facilitate exchange between currently existing sustainable consumption networks. All conference participants at this event are active members of US and European sustainable consumption research communities. The public lectures and panel discussion will provide an opportunity to discuss household consumption and the various ways in which it impacts negatively on the environment as well as to explore how a shift towards more sustainable consumption might be encouraged, measured and governed.”
During the three-day event, academics will discuss their research in the area of sustainable consumption; exploring a variety of themes that range from sustainable transport to premature product obsolescence. Keynote speakers include: Maurie Cohen, New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA; Tim Cooper, Nottingham Trent University, UK; Mike Goodman, King’s College London; Inge Ropke, Technical University of Denmark as well as members of the Consensus project team from NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin.
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