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Conservation Research Institute

 

The Human Enterprise on a Changing Planet with Professor Ruth De Fries

Tellus Mater Distinguished Fellow in Sustainability Studies 2020
Denning Professor of Sustainable Development, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University 

Join us as Professor Ruth DeFries delivers two public events examining human transformation of the landscape and its consequences for climate, biogeochemical cycling, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services that make our planet habitable. The work is based on premise that land use change involves trade-offs between human necessities such as food and unintended environmental consequences such as greenhouse gas emissions and habitat loss. A particular focus is tropical deforestation and its impacts on atmospheric carbon emissions. DeFries examines land use changes over broad scales through the lens of satellite observations. She is actively involved in linking scientific information into policy decisions.

Ruth DeFries is a professor of ecology and sustainable development at Columbia University in New York. She uses images from satellites and field surveys to examine how the world’s demands for food and other resources are changing land use throughout the tropics. Her research quantifies how these land use changes affect climate, biodiversity and other ecosystem services, as well as human development. She has also developed innovate education programs in sustainable development. DeFries was elected as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, one of the country’s highest scientific honors, received a MacArthur “genius” award, and is the recipient of many other honors for her scientific research. In addition to over 100 scientific papers, she is committed to communicating the nuances and complexities of sustainable development to popular audiences, most recently through her book “The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis.


The Human Enterprise on a Changing Planet | Programme

Tuesday 3rd March

Nature's Secrets for Uncertain Times

5pm, Lecture Theatre A, Student Services, Cambridge, CB2 3PT

The complexity of the urban, interconnected modern world, combined with the complexity of a changing planet, makes the future unpredictable and uncertain.  How societies can prepare and manage for unpredictable times raises fundamental questions about how society can persist through uncertainty.  Nature’s experience over billions of years with survival through swings in climate, crashing asteroids, and self-inflicted extinctions provides surprising and counter-intuitive clues for us, with lessons for the architecture of trade networks, collective decisions, and investments to maintain biological and cultural diversity. Followed by a drinks reception.  

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Wednesday 4th March

The Illusive Quest for Science to Make a Difference

5pm, Main Seminar Room, David Attenborough Building, Cambridge, CB2 3QZ

Many ecologists and earth system scientists are heeding the rallying-cry to use their science to make a difference.  But how precisely to do so and whether scientists can actually influence decisions are not easy questions.  This lecture will discuss some possible strategies and pitfalls, drawing from the presenter’s trials with various approaches including tools and methods for decision support about fires and deforestation in the Amazon and Southeast Asia and attempts at deep engagement in the central India landscape.  Key characteristics to make a difference include collaboration with those who can use the information, a realistic theory of change, and evaluation of effectiveness.

A Cambridge Conservation Initiative Seminar Series Lecture followed by a drinks reception.

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Thursday 5th March

Conversations with Ruth: An Early Career Researcher Day

David Attenborough Building, Cambridge, CB2 3QZ

By Invitation


Tellus Mater Distinguished Fellow in Sustainability Studies 2020

The Tellus Mater Distinguished Fellowship is managed by the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute in cooperation with the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust. The Tellus Mater Distinguished Fellow in Sustainability Studies has been made possible by the generous support of the Tellus Mater Foundation. The Fellowship is managed by the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute (UCCRI) in cooperation with the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust.

The Tellus Mater Distinguished Fellowship, follows the earlier Humanitas Chair in Sustainability Studies which was created in 2013. Over its seven year duration, the programme has included a diverse range of topics relating to sustainability studies, ranging from the environment and behaviour, to policy and economics.


 

Date: 
Tuesday, 3 March, 2020 - 11:15