ISOE Lecture with Karen O’Brien at the Goethe University Frankfurt

Quantum theory in sustainability research

The numerous global environmental crises of our time call for profound change. But how can we realize this change at the pace, scale and depth required? How can the necessary transformations be achieved in a fair and sustainable way? Karen O’Brien, internationally renowned expert on climate change and society, explored these questions with a social science perspective of quantum theory at the ISOE Lecture on 2 February 2023. Her lecture “Quantum Social Change for a Thriving World: You Matter More than You Think” took place at Goethe University Frankfurt. The video recording of the event is now available.

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ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research in Frankfurt am Main is continuing its “ISOE Lecture” in the winter semester of 2022/23. For the first time since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, the event series that has been dedicated to current issues in sustainability research since 2012,  was again held on-site at the Goethe University of Frankfurt. The guest speaker was the renowned scientist Karen O’Brien from the University of Oslo. In her lecture that was held in English, O'Brien showed how societies can respond to global challenges such as climate change and how they can successfully shape transformations. 

In order to do so, the professor of sociology and human geography drew on metaphors, methods and contents from quantum physics and focused on the relationship between individual change, collective change and systemic change. By simultaneously addressing the practical, political and personal aspects of transformation, Karen O’Brien encouraged reflection on how each of us can bring about a quantum of social-ecological change and why this matters more than many think.

At the University of Oslo, Karen O’Brien investigates the effects of climate change and their connections with globalization processes. She is particularly interested in the importance of transdisciplinary and integrated approaches and how these can contribute to the study of global change while leading to a better understanding of the way societies create change and the way they respond to it. Karen O’Brien has been prominently involved in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Global Change Programs, as well as in the transition to Future Earth, a ten-year research initiative on global change.

Quantum Social Change for a Thriving World: You Matter More than You Think

Karen O’Brien
Professor of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo, Norway

Date and time: 02 February 2023, 18:00–19:30 
Location: Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Westend Campus, Casino Room 1.811
Host: ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research in cooperation with the field of study dealing with Industrial and Organizational Sociology, Environmental Sociology, FB 03, Goethe University
Join the discussion: #ISOE_Lecture
Note: The video recording of the event is available here

About the ISOE Lecture

The lecture series of ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research takes place every winter semester and is dedicated to current questions of sustainability research as well as concrete examples from science and research. The series aims to give students and young scientists in particular, but also interested members of the public, food for thought on how transitions to sustainable development can succeed and what role universities and science can play in this. 
More information on the ISOE Lecture.

Scientific contact:

PD Dr. Diana Hummel
Tel. +49 69 707 6919-33  

Press contact:

Melanie Neugart
Tel. +49 69 707 6919-51