ISOE Lecture Winter Semester 2019/20

Shaping a Better Planet in the Age of Humans – ISOE Lecture on the anthropocene debate with Erle C. Ellis

ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research in Frankfurt am Main continued its series “ISOE Lecture” in the winter semester of 2019/20. This year’s lecture at the Goethe University Frankfurt was dealing with the debate on the anthropocene. The renowned environmental scientist and anthropocene researcher Erle C. Ellis from the University of Maryland has outlined how societies can meet global challenges such as climate change. The ISOE Lecture “Shaping a Better Planet in the Age of Humans” took place on 13 February 2020.

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Menschengruppe vor Sonnenuntergang (© Mitja/
Menschengruppe vor Sonnenuntergang (© Mitja/

Humans have become the determining factor for the global ecosystem: From the loss of biodiversity to ocean acidification and climate change, human activities influence the earth’s geoprocesses. Meanwhile, mankind has changed those processes to such an extent that a group of scientists are discussing whether a new era should be named accordingly. The American environmental scientist Erle C. Ellis is a member of this “Anthropocene Working Group,” which is now recommending to name the new geological era the “Anthropocene”.

In this year’s ISOE Lecture, Erle C. Ellis, the author of “Anthropocene. A Very Short Introduction” gave  a compact overview of the state of the art in anthropocene research by showing how the dominant geophysical and destructive force of man can be transformed into a sustainable shaping force.

For although the anthropocene narrative has so far been dominated by a pessimistic view of the state of the planet, Ellis is convinced that humans can positively influence the earth. He has therefore shown how to preserve habitats and biodiversity at a global and local level during the anthropocene.

Scientific lecture series on topics of sustainability research

Since 2012, the ISOE Lecture has been held every winter semester at Goethe University and is dedicated to current issues of sustainability research and to specific examples from science and research. The series aims to give students, scientists and the interested public food for thought on how transitions to a sustainable development can be successful and what role university and science play in this process.

Shaping a Better Planet in the Age of Humans

Erle C. Ellis – Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland in Baltimore (USA) 

ISOE Lecture WS 2019/20 

Date: 13 February 2020, time: 6 pm

Location: Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Campus Westend. IG-Farben-Haus 311, Q3 – Norbert-Wollheim-Platz 1

Organizer: ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research in cooperation with the subject area industrial and organizational sociology, environmental sociology, FB 03, Goethe University

The lecture is in English.

Invitation leaflet (in German only)