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"Doing Things Differently"

Intercultural Research and Learning for Sustainability

9 April 2014

14:00-18:00 Heriot-Watt University (Riccarton Campus)

Keynote Thinker: Alastair McIntosh

'Sustainability' is commonly perceived as environmental issues by another name – an unhelpful editing of a concept where environmental and social issues are inextricably linked. At the root of every environmental issue you will find issues of justice, equality and power relationships. Culture and ecology are mutually dependent and inseparable in achieving sustainability.

Our perception of what we can or cannot do is shaped by deeply held cultural attitudes, dependent to a large extent on how we think collectively – as a social class , a circle of friends, an ethnic group or an academic discipline. Cultural discourse is as much a part of our collective journey towards sustainability as the natural sciences and technological innovation.

This interdisciplinary colloquium was organised by Heriot-Watt University's Intercultural Research Centre in collaboration with Learning for Sustainability Scotland, a United Nations recognised Regional Centre of Expertise. Together we looked at challenges arising from different cultural perspectives on sustainability. The seminar explored areas where intercultural research – research that takes place between and across different cultures – can support learning for sustainability in a wide range of spheres: from the natural and built environment to social and economic issues.

Alastair McIntosh is an independent scholar, activist, writer, speaker and broadcaster from the Isle of Lewis with a wide range of academic connections that have included a visiting professorship and fellowship at the universities of Strathclyde and Ulster, and he is currently an Honorary Senior Fellow in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow, a Fellow of the Schumacher Society and a Research Fellow at the School of Divinity (New College), University of Edinburgh. Other roles include serving as a founding director of the GalGael Trust in Govan and special advisor to the Board of the Centre for Human Ecology (CHE) of which he was once the director. 

 Read the report in the Heriot-Watt News Archive.