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Cultural climate models: interactions and mobilities between the 'is' and 'ought' in climate futures 
Warren Pearce (University of Sheffield)
Yuting Yao (The University of Sheffield)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Cultural climate models offer simplified representations of complex and uncertain issues of ethics and values. These models illuminate interactions and mobilities between ‘is’ and ‘ought’ in the pathways of transition proposed in science, policy, literature, education and the media.

Long Abstract:

The cultural modelling of climate change is an emerging research topic at the intersection of STS and the environmental humanities (Hoydis et al., 2023). The central role of scientific modelling in the development of climate change as an idea has previously been analysed and critiqued in STS (e.g. Demeritt, 2001; Knox, 2015; Guillemot, 2022). This scholarship has shown how scientific modelling has both helped to stabilise climate as a topic of political importance (Edwards, 1999) while also hindering the consideration of ethical questions around how societies should respond (Rubiano Rivadeneira & Carton, 2022).

Cultural modelling is of equal importance to scientific modelling in understanding climate futures across different social, geographical and temporal contexts. Like the technical models used by climate scientists, cultural models offer simplified representations of a complex and uncertain reality. Unlike scientific models, cultural models explicitly engage with issues of ethics and value. Thus moving between ostensibly neutral (climate) facts and normative (social) values, cultural modelling allows us to better understand the interactions and mobilities between models of climate futures (‘is’) to models for climate futures (‘ought’).

This panel provides a space to reflect on how cultural forms such as policy documents, science communication, literature, social media posts and educational materials model possible climate futures, debate values, and suggest pathways of transition in response to the climate crisis (e.g. distributive justice, veganism and antinatalism).

We warmly welcome theoretical, empirical and methodological contributions on topics including (but not limited to):

The imagined human in climate futures;

Intersectionality and cultural climate modelling;

Visualising climate change;

Cultural models in climate science-policy;

Cultural climate models in the media

Narrative and language in climate discourse.

This panel contributes to the conference theme of making and doing transformations, and how STS scholars can pluralise the knowledge brought to bear on normativities of transformation.

Accepted papers: