Schot on society, progress and stories
The latest development in Johan Schot’s work with the International Panel on Social Progress (IPSP) is published this summer in a major new research report – Rethinking Society for the 21st Century. With Science Policy Research Centre colleagues, Professor Andy Stirling and Dr Cian O’Donovan, Professor Schot contributed to the report, examining the relationship between technology and social progress.
A special IPSP edition of Technology’s Stories has been launched, published by the Society for the History of Technology – SHOT, featuring new essays linked to the report’s findings. These articles also consider how stories can help us to imagine a new society for the 21st century. Professor Schot with Dr O’Donovan considers how we craft stories of progress and technology in his June blog orginally published for Technology’s Stories.
The publication puts forward various considerations on how to think differently about society for the 21st century. New thinking on social progress is seen to be hampered by ‘enlightenment baggage’ and the ‘ghosts of modernisation’. Such outdated ideas place limits on the imagination.
In a world where disparities in wellbeing, resources and power are widening, the IPSP explores how we can make a better society for the 21st century and proposes action-driven change for the most pressing challenges of our time. These arguments make a clear case for the importance of the social sciences in rethinking society for the 21st century. Social scientists have a crucial role to play in conceptualising, designing and redefining the key aspects of society needed for advancing social progress, in keeping with the normative belief that ‘it can be otherwise‘. This perspective and orientation towards action-driven research links with the work of the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium, of which Professor Schot is the founder.
SPRU hosted a special event at the University of Sussex that brought together the authors to discuss their contributions to the IPSP and to ask: ‘What follows?’ The international panel convened for the discussion included SPRU’s Professor Schot and Professor Stirling, Professor Helga Nowotny (ETH Zurich and SPRU Advisory Group), Professor Judith Sutz and Professor Suzanne Moon. The panel addressed a diverse audience from around the university campus, including the 42 participants from the 2018 STEPS Summer School.
This event was an opportunity to champion the success of the report, and also to discuss how its findings might now be used in society more broadly to establish meaningful change. Subsequently, many events like this one are happening around the world to share the knowledge and expertise garnered by the IPSP.