Does social science have a place in the climate change discourse?
Recognizing the changing climate as an environmental and social challenge, the Center, with support from the Philippine Social Science Council (PSSC), organized “The Climate Dialogues: Brainstorming on Society & Development” last October 22. The event aimed to solicit ideas and insights which will inform the next steps of the Center as it grows its understanding of the social facets of climate change. The Center invited respondents of the online survey it launched earlier this year calling for collaborators for a research study on how beliefs, values, behavior, and culture play a role in addressing climate change and spurring climate action.
Hosted by Kato Sarmiento, communications manager of the Center and Johanne Sebastian Cruz, librarian and knowledge management officer of the PSSC, the two-hour event via Zoom was attended by experts, practitioners and researchers from social science disciplines, including sociology, political science, geography, and theology, among others.
Critical role of Social Sciences
In his welcome remarks, Dr. Rodel Lasco, OML Center executive director, underscored that it is not enough to look at climate change from the scientific perspective alone as it is a problem affecting social, economic, political, and environmental systems. Dr. Lasco expressed that social science has a critical role to play in the public’s understanding of climate change.
Alfi Lorenz Cura, research associate of the Center, provided an overview of the Center’s Society & Development program, and expounded on the need to look at social dimensions to better understand what drives climate action. He explained that integrating the social aspects in climate change research can provide a deeper understanding of different social and behavioral dynamics that are fundamental in effectively communicating science and in coming up with solutions.
Asking questions to find answers
Participants were divided into three breakout groups and were challenged to thresh out the relevant aspects and themes that can be considered in the society & development conversations on climate change by answering the questions Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
These breakout sessions were moderated by Prof. Flordeliz Abanto, core member of the Philippine Academic Society for Climate and Disaster Resilience; Dr. Maria Helen Dayo, anthropologist and Gender and Development specialist at the University of the Philippines Los Banos; and Dr. Rosalie Arcala Hall, Full Professor and Scientist I at the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) Miagao, Iloilo. Reporters for each group presented highlights from their discussions.
Dr. Lourdes Portus, executive director of PSSC, synthesized the inputs, noting the commonality in themes such as roles of various actors, communication, and vulnerable sectors. Dr. Portus closed the brainstorming session acknowledging insights from participants that surfaced key research areas that the Center and PSSC can consider in planning the next activities next year.
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