Dr Martin Mahony, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
Dr Naomi Vaughan, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
This project will develop the first history of Integrated Assessment Modelling (IAM), and examine how that history can inform current debates about future climate change.
As societies urgently seek pathways to a more sustainable future, new questions are being asked about the relationship between scientific knowledge and decision-making. What kind of knowledge is required to support difficult decisions? How can policymakers deal with uncertainties in scenarios and forecasts? What gets left out of calculations of future policy options, and why might that matter?
How scientists make knowledge about the future, and how that knowledge gets used in making certain futures happen, has recently been of great interest to scholars in science and technology studies (Beck & Mahony 2017). Through this unique interdisciplinary PhD project, you can make a ground-breaking contribution in this area by conducting the first piece of historical research on IAMs – the key tools by which policy-makers make sense of the policy options they have before them for dealing with climate change (e.g. Vaughan et al. 2018). With the support of a leading STS scholar and world-renowned interdisciplinary climate scientists, you’ll investigate how these complex scientific tools have developed over time, how they differ from each other, and how they have evolved in tandem with the changing politics of climate change.
In addition, you’ll pioneer an approach to making this kind of historical research useful and impactful for the climate science community, by helping users of IAM results to understand how these models are structured, their assumptions, and how they can be best used in the making of climate futures.
The student will be based in UEA’s 3S Group (https://3sresearch.org/) and the Tyndall Centre (https://www.tyndall.ac.uk/) . The project will be conducted in partnership with Prof. Detlef van Vuuren of the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, an IAM pioneer.
Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a first or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in Geography, Environmental Sciences/Environmental Studies, Science & Technology Studies, Sociology, History or cognate disciplines.