Danish conference opens global dialogue

Aarhus, 16 September 2009

Press release

Conference in Denmark starts global dialogue
on the climate values of individuals

Say the words climate change and most people think of the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen, CO2 emissions or energy saving light bulbs. But people should also think about culture and personal values when they hear the words climate change, says a group of academic researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark.

"So far we have primarily talked about climate change at the political, economic and scientific level. But climate change will lead to changes in the lifestyles of people all over the world and therefore we need to discuss the kind of values that should be the foundation of our lives in the future," says associate professor Johanna Seibt.

She and Jesper Garsdal from VIA University College are co-directors of the research unit ICON (Interculturality, Conflict and Value Studies) based at Department of Philosophy and the History of Ideas at Aarhus University.

From 3-6 November 2009, ICON will be hosting an international conference at Aarhus University that will gather researchers and practitioners from the humanities, human sciences, education, journalism and the business world. They meet to initiate a global dialogue across cultures and professions about the personal values that will motivate citizens to take responsibility for and adapt to the new reality.

"Climate change provides a unique opportunity for discussing future central values for the many different cultures in the world. Should that be values of self-determination and independence or global justice? Should we find existential gratification in values of material growth or acts of global solidarity? These are issues we should discuss across cultures to see if it is possible to find shared values and learn from each other," say Johanna Seibt and Jesper Garsdal.

The conference "Global Dialogue 2009: Responsibility Across Borders - Climate Change as Challenge for Intercultural Inquiry on Values" places itself in between political events like the climate summit in Copenhagen, the attending NGO Climate Forum and the many conferences that approach climate change from a scientific point of view.

These conferences do not devote time to look at what ordinary people think about climate change but that will happen in Aarhus. Therefore the primarily academic conference will also invite citizens to take part in the opening dialogue session at Aarhus University on 3 November 2009.

Top speaker at the opening session is the British climate scientist Mike Hulme. After years of hardcore scientific work on climate issues, he is now engaged in research on what climate change means for culture and society.

In his new book "Why We Disagree about Climate Change" he says that climate change is more than a physical phenomenon with a technical solution. It is also a way of understanding the world that can lead to profound changes in the areas of technology, ethics, art and ways of living.

The conference concludes with the award ceremony for the newly established Global Dialogue Prize. The prize is in the amount of 500,000 Danish kroner and is given for an exceptional contribution to research or public debate on intercultural understanding.

You can get more information from

The conference's website

Projekt manager Jacob Bock, Department of Philosophy and the History of Ideas, Aarhus University
phone:  +45 89 42 65 49
mobile: +45 20 66 72 72
e-mail: filbock@hum.au.dk

ICON Aarhus University