November 25, 2016 – University of Zurich

November 25, 2016 – University of Zurich

In recent years the Anthropocene, the so-called ‘geologic age of Man’, has become a crucially important concept driving research agendas in a number of disciplines across the earth and social sciences and has grasped the public imagination far beyond the academy.

This one-day interdisciplinary symposium brings together leading international scholars from the earth sciences and social sciences whose research engages the concept to explore its emergence within Geology and Earth System Science and its reception and impact in the critical social sciences and environmental governance. It aims to provide a platform to discuss the different epistemological and methodological frameworks within which knowledge of the Anthropocene is produced and the contested questions around its historical origins and social, political and philosophical importance. In addition the symposium will feature short presentations from those working in other fields including the arts about how they have engaged the Anthropocene in their work.

The symposium hopes to foster inter- and intra-disciplinary collaboration and dialogue around shared concerns and questions both within the University of Zurich and between the University and networks of international scholars.

Invited Speakers

Kathryn Yusoff Kathryn Yusoff is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Queen Mary University of London who focuses her research on dynamic earth events such as abrupt climate change, biodiversity loss and extinction. She is particularly interested in the opportunities the Anthropocene presents for rethinking the interactions between the earth sciences and human geography in the “geo-social formations” of Anthropogenic change.
Mark Williams Mark Williams is Professor of palaeobiology at Leicester University in the UK. He is interested in major events in the evolution of life on Earth, particularly the development of animal-rich ecosystems during the Cambrian Period, some half a billion years ago. His interests in ‘deep time’ evolution have influenced his current research focus, which examines the impact of humans on biosphere evolution. He is also a member of the Anthropocene Working Group reporting to the International Commission on Stratigraphy.
Mark Maslin Mark Maslin is a Professor of Earth System Sciences at University College London. He is a Royal Society Industrial Fellow working with Rezatec Ltd a company he co-founded. Maslin is a leading scientist with particular expertise in global and regional climatic change and has publish over 150 papers in journals such as Science, Nature, The Lancet and Nature Climate Change.  He has been awarded £45 million in grants, written 11 books, over 50 popular articles and appears regularly on radio and television. In 2015 he published with Prof. Simon Lewis the seminal review “Defining the Anthropocene” in Nature. He was included in Who’s Who for the first time in 2009 and was granted a five year Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award in 2011 for his work in early human evolution in East Africa.
Eva Lövbrand Eva Lövbrand is an Associate Professor at the Department of Thematic Studies at Linköping University, Sweden. Much of her work has focused on the ideas, knowledge claims and expert practices that inform environmental politics and governance. Climate change has served as Eva’s prime empirical example, but in recent years she has also explored how the Anthropocene is figured and narrated as a political problem. Since early 2015 Eva is the convener of the Earth System Governance project’s task force on the Anthropocene. Eva’s work has been extensively published in journals such as Global Environmental Politics, Science, Technology and Human Values, Science, Critical Policy Studies, Review of International Relations and Global Environmental Change.
Dennis Hansen Dennis Hansen is an evolutionary biologist working on plant-animal interactions, ecological networks and mutualisms particularly in the relation to island biology. He also pursues research around questions of conservation, restoration biology and rewilding. Hansen is one of the leading researchers in the Zurich-Aldabra Research Platform (ZARP) a multi-disciplinary collaboration between scientists based mainly at the University of Zürich and the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) focused upon the Aldabra Atoll in the western Indian Ocean and the Aldabra giant tortoise.
Ursula Biemann Ursula Biemann is an artist, writer, and video essayist based in Zurich, Switzerland. Her artistic practice is strongly research oriented and involves fieldwork in remote locations where she investigates climate change and the ecologies of oil, forest, ice and water. Her video installations have been exhibited worldwide in museums and at international art biennials in Sao Paulo, Liverpool, Sharjah, Shanghai, Istanbul, Montreal, and Venice. She has had comprehensive solo exhibitions at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein n.b.k.; Lentos Museum Linz and Helmhaus Zurich. Biemann was educated at the School of Visual Arts and the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York and has been awarded a doctor honoris causa in Humanities from Umea University, Sweden and the Prix Meret Oppenheim, the Swiss Grand Award for Art.

Guest Chairs

Helmut Weissert Helmut Weissert
Professor at the Department of Earth Sciences, ETH Zurich

Research Area: Sedimentology, Palaeoceanography, Palaeocliamtology, History of the Global Carbon Cycle, Earth System’s History, Alpine Geology

Michael Schaepman Michael E. Schaepman
Dean of the Faculty of Science, University of Zurich

Professor of Remote Sensing, Department of Geography

Director of University Research Priority Program ‘Global Change and Biodiversity’

For further information please contact us at:

Background image: “World of Change: Urbanisation of Dubai”, NASA Earth Observatory