Humanities Conference: Coping with Scarcity

Friday, November 14, 2014
Saturday, November 15, 2014
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Baxter B125
Coping with Scarcity: Energy Shortages, Food Crises, Drought, and Critical Materials in the Modern World (c. 1800 to the present)

A Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences and Resnick Sustainability Institute conference at Caltech

Coping with Scarcity brings together international experts to tackle key issues about scarcity in a world that has achieved unprecedented abundance.  What produces scarcity and what do we mean by it?   What leads to shortages (whether in renewable or non-renewable resources), and what is their impact on the economy, on society and culture?  Are there parallels and differences between different sorts of shortage – of energy, water, food and critical materials?  And what can we learn from how political regimes, communities and individual consumers have responded to scarcity, from grand schemes orchestrated internationally to family strategies of making do?  

To wrestle with these questions, Caltech is bringing together material scientists with historians, economists and other social scientists at a multidisciplinary conference on 14 and 15 November. Participants draw on a wide range of case studies, some historical and some contemporary, to assess how scarcity has been defined and contested, how optimists and pessimists have argued with one another, and the actions that have been offered to cope with it. Genuinely cross-disciplinary, the conference seeks to uncover the complexity of scarcity, past and present, as well as the myriad proposals for its solution.

For program information, see the conference poster (PDF).

For more information, please contact Sabrina De Jaegher by phone at 626-395-4228 or by email at sabrina@hss.caltech.edu.