SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

STEPS Centre Unveils 2019 Theme: Uncertainty

The STEPS Centre, co-hosted by SPRU and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), has launched a new theme for 2019 on Uncertainty. The ‘Uncertainty’ theme is the second in a four-year programme built around research, learning, and events. 

This work is funded by the ESRC and produced in collaboration with partners in the Global Consortium in Africa, China, Europe, Latin America, North America and South Asia. Through a series of events and learning activities linked to research, it will focus on creating alliances and dialogue between scholarship and activism on sustainability issues.

In his blog for the programme – titled ‘Politics in the Language of Uncertainty’Professor Andy Stirling writes:

“Uncertainty is not a condition out there in the world. It is a state of knowledge – deeply embedded and shaped in society. The difference may seem abstract. But it could hardly be of more profound or practical importance. And this has arguably never been more true than in today’s turbulent world.”

Read the other two blogs by Prof Stirling in this series:


Now in its second year, the work of the programme is structured around four themes: 

  • 2020: Natures Resource politics 
  • 2021: Methods 

Events and Learning

The STEPS Centre, hosted at the Institute of Development Studies and SPRU, University of Sussex, is hosting an international symposium, The Politics of Uncertainty, in July 2019, as well as a series of public seminars with invited speakers.

STEPS has also launched a set of projects linked to the theme, exploring how so-called ‘marginal’ communities deal with uncertainty, and how art and creativity can respond to an uncertain world.

One such project is the System Change Hive. Starting in February 2019, this series of discussions brought together… and included a talk from Adrian Smith about makerspaces, making and technology. Held in Brighton starting from February 2019, the System Change Hive is a series of discussions that brings together art and research on the theme of systemic change, and included a talk from Adrian Smith (SPRU/STEPS Centre) about makerspaces, making and technology.

Informed by ideas from STEPS and climate communications experts, and with mentoring from experienced artists, a group of emerging artists are creating a set of artworks that respond to concerns about environmental collapse under capitalism, and open up the possibilities of radically different futures.

Visit the website to listen to Adrian Smith’s discussion or listen below.

 If you would like to read more about the four-year programme, see our story from last year, or visit the STEPS Centre website