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Annual Conference

2011 Annual International Conference

Global Sustainability and Public Understanding of Science:
The Role of Science Education Research in the International Community

April 3-6, 2011
Caribe Royale Orlando
Orlando, FL

Sunday, April 3, 2011
Plenary Speaker

Dr. Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy
Director of the School of Global Sustainability
Director of the Patel Center for Global Solutions
University of South Florida, Tampa, FL (USA)

Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy, an internationally-recognized expert on urban water issues who has worked to create clean and sustainable water and sanitation systems through programs for UNESCO and the European Union, has been selected as the Director for USF’s newly-minted School of Global Sustainability. In his 17-year career, Vairavamoorthy has led groups of researchers studying the future of sustainable water systems for cities and how urban areas might respond to water issues in the face of climate change and population growth. Since 2006, Vairavamoorthy has served as scientific director of SWITCH (Sustainable Water Management Improves Tomorrow’s Cities Health), the European Union’s Integrated Project for Sustainable Urban Water Management. The programs Vairavamoorthy has led have been rooted in "action research" that connects researchers to the communities they serve. His PhD is in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering and he has earned a MSc in Environmental Engineering, both from Imperial College, University of London. His first degree are in Civil Engineering, from King’s College, University of London. He is also a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK).


Cities all over the world are facing a range of dynamic regional and global change pressures, such as climate change, population growth, urbanization, deterioration of urban infrastructure systems and more. Due to these pressures cities of the future will experience difficulties in efficiently managing scarcer and less reliable resources.

The current models of resource management, and their corresponding infrastructure, originated from the 19th century, when populations were relatively small, and there was a view that resources were abundant and the environment benign. Unfortunately, remnants of this 19th century model are deeply embedded in our thinking and it has been institutionalized in business, politics and education.

There is a fundamental need for change at the system-wide level in the way we manage our resources, based on a foundation of research, technology and innovation. Technology breakthroughs and innovative designs need to be coupled with comprehensive system changes to the urban processes that shape our cities. These complicated challenges calls for a new generation of urban leaders with radically different thinking, informed by an understanding of human and natural systems, to deliver a real paradigm shift in environmentally sustainable urban management.

In addition, we need to address the lack in uptake of new science. Creating the imperative for change is extremely difficult, as it requires a change in the mindset of people — governments, financiers, consulting firms and the general public. One way science educators may address this issue is though learning alliances — local multi-stakeholder platforms that guide and support the development and implementation of scientific research.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Plenary Speaker

Dr. Tim Kasser
Professor and Chair of Psychology
Knox College, Galesburg, IL (USA)

After receiving his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Rochester, Tim Kasser accepted a position at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he is currently Professor and Chair of Psychology. He has authored over seventy scientific articles and book chapters on materialism, values, goals, and quality of life, sustainable development and wellbeing as a policy aim, among other topics. Tim is also the author of The High Price of Materialism (MIT Press, 2002), co-editor of Psychology and Consumer Culture (APA, 2004) and co-author of Meeting Environmental Challenges: The Role of Human Identity (WWF-UK, 2009). He spends a good deal of his time working with activist groups that try to protect children from commercialization and that encourage a more “inwardly rich” lifestyle than what is offered by consumerism. Tim lives with his wife, two sons, and assorted animals in the Western Illinois countryside.


Description: Despite some important successes, the efforts of the environmental movement have thus far failed to activate the kinds of personal and social changes necessary to meet the many ecological challenges we face. A growing body of psychological research suggests that if these efforts incorporated more knowledge about human identity (including our values, our sense of social identity, and the ways we cope when threatened), greater progress toward a more sustainable world might be forthcoming. This keynote will focus primarily on research documenting how the strong priority placed on extrinsic, materialistic values (for money, image, and status) can undermine pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors. Strategies science educators could utilize to promote sustainability via attention to this particular aspect of human identity will be addressed.


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