Constitutionalizing in the Anthropocene

Public Lecture: What Are We Talking About When We Talk About ‘Transformation’?

08 May 2024


by Laura Mai, Postdoctoral Researcher at Tilburg University. 

Time and place: May 8, 2024 4:15 PM – 5:00 PM, CEST, Zoom (sign up link below)Add to calendar 

(Photo Credit: Colourbox)

This is the fourth and final Welcome to the Anthropocene lecture, hosted by: Oslo School of Environmental Humanities (OSEH)

The global climate crisis response envisioned by the Paris Agreement (the most recently concluded international treaty on climate change) is commonly understood as demanding ‘transformative’ change. Yet, we lack a holistic conceptual framing for making sense of what such change would entail, how it might unfold, and who and what it will involve. Moreover, there has been little critical engagement with the question of what is at stake when invoking the notion of transformation. Contributing to the broader debate about what the climate crisis demands of law and legal institutions, the lecture offers an ontology of transformative change, critically appraises the concept of transformation, and reflects on what engagement with the transformation trope might mean for how we do scholarship.

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About the presenter: 

Laura Mai (@_Laura_Mai) is a postdoctoral researcher at Tilburg University where she works within the ‘Constitutionalizing in the Anthropocene’ project. Laura’s research applies an interdisciplinary socio-legal perspective to explore how ways of thinking about and doing law are becoming reconfigured under conditions of the unfolding climate crisis. Laura’s expertise covers international, transnational, and local climate change law and governance, the ‘Anthropocene’ and its import on legal scholarship and praxis, and critical transformation thinking. Laura has conducted ethnographic research on the 2015 Paris Agreement, worked for the UN Climate Change Secretariat, and advised the UK Parliament on the role of sub-national actors in addressing climate change. Laura’s research has been published in Global PolicyGlobal Environmental PoliticsTransnational Environmental LawThe Leiden Journal of International LawTransnational Legal Theory, and Earth System Governanceamongst others.

Suggested readings

Ian Scoones et al, ‘Transformations to Sustainability: Combining Structural, Systemic and Enabling Approaches’ (2020) 42 Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 65-75

Comic – German Advisory Council on Global Change, ‘The Great Transformation. Climate – Can We Beat the Heat?’ (2013)

The Welcome to the Anthropocene lecture series

The Anthropocene is a widely used term that designates the most recent epoch in Earth’s history: an epoch in which humans have radically altered (and disrupted) the climate and ecosystems of the planet. 

The annual Welcome to the Anthropocene lecture series invites scholars and researchers across the humanities, social and natural sciences to explore how their disciplines are responding—both to the concept of the Anthropocene, and to the planetary crisis that it designates. 

For the 2024 Anthropocene Lecture Series we’ve invited leading international scholars. Read more about the other lectures in the series here

2024 Convenors and organizers: Sara Asu Schroer and Anna-Katharina Laboissiere.

How to attend

The 2024 lecture series are free and open to the public. You can either attend in person at the University of Oslo or on Zoom. Register in advance to join.