University of Cambridge

The Humanitas Visiting Professorship in Sustainability Studies at the University of Cambridge explores the many aspects of how sustainability can be applied in global society now and in the future. Of pressing importance, this initiative brings Visiting Professors with multidisciplinary expertise in the environment, business, social sciences, and policy to address how sustainability can be an opportunity rather than a burden.

The Visiting Professorship in Sustainability Studies is made possible by the generous support of the Tellus Mater Foundation and is hosted by Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

Paul Ferraro 2015-2016

Paul Ferraro is the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Business and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on behavioural economics and the design and evaluation of environmental programs in the private and public sector.

Johan Rockström 2014-2015

Johan Rockström is Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

In his opening lecture, Human Prosperity within Planetary Boundaries, Professor Rockström argues that Humanity is at a juncture in which we now face real risks of large and irreversible changes in the environmental living conditions on Earth. This redefines world development. Now, rising evidence shows that global sustainability is a prerequisite to attain social and economic development at all scales, from local communities to the global economy. A new paradigm for sustainable development is therefore needed, defined by the new challenge of attaining long term human prosperity within the safe operating space of a resilient and stable planet. “Planetary Boundaries” constitute a scientific framework that enables the definition of this safe operating space, defined to provide the world with a high chance of safeguarding a stable planet for future generations.

Professor Rockström’s second lecture, Planetary Boundaries 2.0: Advancements on Defining a Safe Operating Space for Humanity on Earth, examines the key elements of scientific advancement that formed the ingredients of the Planetary Boundaries framework. Since its original publication the Planetary Boundaries framework has triggered major scientific scrutiny, debate and advancements. This has triggered new integrated research on global governance and equity dimensions of planetary stewardship of a safe and just operating space within planetary boundaries.

Gretchen Daily 2013-2014

Gretchen Daily is Bing Professor of Environmental Science in the Department of Biology, Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment, and Director of the Centre for Conservation Biology at the University of Stanford.

Gretchen Daily’s Visiting Professorship tackles the question of how we can make conservation and sustainability an accepted part of everyday life.

Her first lecture, Mainstreaming Natural Capital into Decision-Making: Frontiers in Research and Policy, presents the need to understand ecosystems so as to make biodiversity profitable and create ‘natural capital’: a balance of economic, environmental, cultural, educational, and community gains.

In her second lecture, Nature’s Competing Values, Daily draws on case studies from New York City, Costa Rica, the Napa Valley, and China to look at how communities, corporations, and governments can be incentivised to invest in their own natural capital.

Daily’s final lecture, Feeding the World and Security Biodiversity, presents the difficult question of which elements of biodiversity will survive in the coming years, and which are the most important. Daily makes the point that successful conservation works for rather than against human beings.

Gretchen Daily’s Humanitas tenure ended with a symposium with Cambridge academics Bhaskar Vira, Toby Gardner, and Partha Dasgupta. The symposium brought together people from the social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and engineering to engage in a debate about the vital importance and daunting challenges of sustainability in the coming decades.

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