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How did we become unprepared. Emergency and resilience in an uncertain world

Panel discussion held on 7 November 2012 (venue: The British Academy).

We have entered a new geological age – the Anthropocene. For the first time, human activity is shaping biospheric change and global evolution. For good or ill, we have become the architects of our own planetary future.

In this panel discussion, Mark Duffield explored the implications of the dominance of radical interconnectivity and uncertainty as a way of explaining global events, including the shift from modernist attempts to protect from contingency to resilience-thinking with its call to embrace risk as opportunity.

His fellow panellists from the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute discussed a social-ecological understanding of society, the built environment and resilience-thinking.

Professor Judith Squires is Professor of Political Theory at the University of Bristol, where she is also Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences & Law and a member of the Cabot Institute Governance Board. She is Director of the South West Doctoral Training Centre and a member of the ESRC Training and Skills Committee.


Professor Mark Duffield was the founding Director of the Global Insecurities Centre and an acknowledged international expert in disaster politics and the connections between development and security. He is the author of Global Governance and the New Wars (2001) and Development, Security and Unending War (2007). He is currently heading a research project on risk management among aid agencies working in the challenging environments of Southern Sudan and Afghanistan.

Dr Jon Bridle has over 16 years research experience on evolutionary and ecological responses of organisms to environmental change. He is a member of international working groups on ecological resilience and adaptation to global change.

Professor Colin Taylor FICE, was Head of Civil Engineering and immediate past Chairman SW Region of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He has over 30 years research and practitioner experience in systems performance management of complex infrastructures, such as dams, nuclear facilities, long span bridges, water and electricity utilities, with a special emphasis on natural hazards, including earthquakes, wind and climate.

This event was arranged in association with the Cabot Institute, University of Bristol and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, University of Bristol.