View all news

Transformative tools for a better Ireland

12 October 2009

The first of a series of ‘Conversations’ between academics and public figures on key challenges for our society and our world takes place at the University of Limerick today between Professor Ruth Levitas of Bristol’s Department of Sociology and veteran Irish politician and social critic, Michael D. Higgins.

The discussion entitled ‘Confronting the Crisis: Transformative Tools for a Better Ireland’ is hosted by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge in Society (ISKS) at the University of Limerick (UL).

Speaking on the launch of the series, Peadar Kirby, Professor of International Politics and Public Policy, and Director of ISKS said: “As Irish society and the Irish state enter their most severe crisis since independence, there is an urgent need to interrogate the accepted paradigms and ‘common sense’ that dominate thinking if we are to lay the foundations for a better Ireland.

“Though the current crisis in Ireland is treated largely as an economic crisis, at heart it is a deeper crisis of values, meaning and direction for Irish society.  As such, it touches on the sorts of knowledge we generate and value in our society today, and highlights the limitations of that knowledge for the crisis we now find ourselves in.”

Professor Levitas will be talking about 'Utopia as method', the subject of the Leverhulme Fellowship she will take up in May 2010, and of her forthcoming book.

She said: “Contemporary politics is dominated by panic-stricken and piecemeal attempts to restore ‘business as usual’.  But the economic and ecological crises mean that we cannot go on as we are.  We need a different approach if we are to ensure secure and sustainable livelihoods for all.

“ ‘Utopia as method’ involves thinking about the connections between economic, social and ecological processes in an integrated way.  We can then develop alternative possible scenarios for the future, and open these up to public debate and democratic decision.

“For those who think 'utopia' is about the impossible, what is really impossible is to carry on as we are, with social and economic systems that enrich a few, but destroy the environment and impoverish millions.  Our very survival depends on finding another way of living.”

The Institute for the Study of Knowledge in Society (ISKS) at the University of Limerick is committed to helping generate forms of knowledge that allow a fuller understanding of the causes of the current crisis and contribute to finding new and imaginative ways of moving beyond the crisis.

Confronting the Crisis: Transformative Tools for a Better Ireland will take place on Monday 12 October from 4pm - 6pm at the University of Limerick.  The event is open to the public and all are welcome.

Edit this page