Imagined Societies And PolicymakersThe politics of IPCC scenarios and a new role for the social science
23. Oktober 2019
Last week an internal workshop about "the politics of IPCC scenarios and the new role for social science" took place at the University of Hamburg.
Scenario-driven modelling is widely used in (global) environmental governance to assess uncertainties and inform policymakers and wider publics about possible and probable evolutions (Garb et al., 2008; Aykut, 2019). Such prospective expertise forms the backbone of emerging forms of “anticipatory governance” (Guston, 2014). It also shapes the ways in which problems are identified, debates framed and solutions designed (Brown et al., 2000; Beck and Mahony, 2017). While model- and scenario-development involve mostly scholars from economics, engineering and the natural sciences, they also entail wide-ranging assumptions about society and politics. Sometimes made explicit in the form of storylines in scenario-building or stylized policy interventions translated into model inputs, such assumptions frequently stay undisclosed, when they take the form of implicit choices embedded in model architectures or specific conceptions of policymaking and -relevance that inform the design of simulation exercises. This discrepancy has repeatedly spurred calls for broader participation of social sciences scholarship in scenario-driven modelling (Pulver and VanDeveer, 2009). The workshop aims to contribute to this discussion. It adopts a dual perspective, combining reflexive review and critique of current practices with constructive reflection on possible ways in which the (non-quantifying) social sciences might productively contribute to prospective expertise.