Sunday, February 19, 2012: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room 212 (VCC West Building)Flattening the world by building a global knowledge society brings focus to the interconnectedness of major issues of climate, agriculture, and health. But what is the shape of global knowledge? One might imagine that knowledge itself is also global, of universal scope with models for prediction and policy representing all the relevant variables to apply everywhere and anytime. As science and societies engage with increasingly complex features of nature, it may be the case that usable knowledge needs to be more local than global, attentive to the diversity of context, as well as the commonalities. Because of the complexity of interactions, what is true of one structure in one situation may not be true of a similar structure in a different situation. The same genetic modification may be introduced into crops to reduce dependence on externally applied pesticides, yet the consequences will vary both among different crops, and between communities with different agricultural practices. Although one means of adapting to global climate change might be successful in a modern industrialized society, that same measure may fail in a developing nation with a small-scale economy. This session will address problems with both generating and applying global knowledge. The speakers will consider how and when local knowledge, local contexts, or diverse concerns create bumps in the expected flat landscape of the increasing globalization of knowledge and solutions to managing these complexities.
Sandra D. Mitchell, University of Pittsburgh