Professor Stewart Lockie
Director, The Cairns Institute
James Cook University
As a calculus of probability and harm, risk has been as important an idea as any to the configuration of the industrial age. Techniques for risk calculation and management have facilitated market growth and the deployment of novel technologies on hitherto unimagined scales – with numerous benefits for human health and wellbeing. Yet risk remains controversial. From global environmental change to financial and food systems crises there is no shortage of evidence conventional approaches to risk are not sufficient, by themselves, to control the negative side-effects of industrialization. Nor, of course, can we expect them to be – accountability for societal welfare being in no way restricted to risk assessment professions and institutions. Nonetheless, the scale and pace of anthropogenically induced environmental change require of the risk professions a re-imagination of risk oriented towards avoiding the twin threats of: (1) failures of imagination; and (2) failures of coordination. This paper will explore the implications of emerging social and environmental issues at a variety of scales and the unique challenges these raise both for foresight (understanding of what is possible) and for deliberation (shared understanding of what is acceptable and desirable).
Stewart Lockie is Professor of Sociology and Director of The Cairns Institute at James Cook University, Australia. Prof Lockie is also a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Foundation Editor of the journal Environmental Sociology, and immediate Past-President of the International Sociological Association's Research Committee on Environment and Society. He is an environmental sociologist whose research addresses environmental governance and risk in a variety of contexts including climate change, biodiversity conservation, agriculture and food security, the greening of consumption practices, and the social impacts of resource development. Prof Lockie is committed to working across disciplinary boundaries and across the science/policy/layperson divide. He is equally committed to lifting research capacity and impact among the social sciences and humanities in the South Pacific and across the broader tropical region.