IIEP Strategic seminar-Climate change and attitude change

When, local time: 
Tuesday, 15 January 2013 -
3:00pm to 4:30pm
France, Paris


The seminar will be held in English and French and will take place

at IIEP on Tuesday, 15 January 2013, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. in Room II, 2nd floor


 Contact: Michaela Martin (m.martin@iiep.unesco.org)



Climate change is one of the main challenges of the 21st century, with potentially devastating effects for both developing and developed countries. While there is much evidence that human action is responsible for climate change, it has proven difficult to come to international agreements on carbon dioxide emission, and to mobilize support and change people’s attitudes and behaviours.


Although public  awareness  and opinion have certainly evolved – in the way that our relationship to our world is viewed, the so-called ‘ecological revolution’ – people are notoriously reluctant to change their habits and mindsets. How then has the ‘ecological revolution’ managed to take hold in certain countries? At this Strategic Debate, the proposition will be made that changes in people’s opinions and world views have been prompted by changes in the world around them. Human outlooks are reset not so much by arguments as by events. 


Resistance to change may be explained in terms of what is called ‘the double embedding of opinions’ – i.e. that our attitudes are lodged in both the ‘logical lattices’ of our conceptions and in our social networks. The result is a mutual reinforcement, continuity, and conservation of belief systems: Opinions come in ensembles, friends come in clusters – and both come together.


So, what can bring about attitudinal and behavioural change? Dramatic events tend to simultaneously alter personal beliefs and social relations. When logical links are severed and social relations rent apart, they can then be reconfigured, allowing a revision of conventional wisdom and set ways of behaviour. This holds not just for attitudes about climate change, but all received ideas – whether ideologies about education. What can the role of education be in bringing about such change? How does education itself need to change to contribute to it ? 




Gudmund Hernes: Former Minister of Education (1990–1995) and Minister of Health (1995–1997) in Norway, Director of IIEP (1999–2005), and currently professor at the Norwegian Business School in Political Economy, as well as President of the International Social Science Council (2006-2010).


The seminar will be moderated by Khalil Mahshi, Director, IIEP.