Contra Apocalypsis: Systems Theory, Rationality, Sustainability and Survival 


Systems thinking, involving tipping points, phase shifts and entropy, usefully underpins investigation of anthropogenic interaction with the natural milieu. Since the stakes in environmental management are no longer local or regional but global, analysis must move beyond the natural sciences’ cataloguing of the symptoms to probe the causes of the cumulating disruptions gripping the world. They emanate from human volition and action: the psyche is where environmental impact is fundamentally generated. On these bases, this seminar interrogates the percepts of procedural and substantive rationality, shifts phase into irrationality and, ultimately, considers a state of collective mental instability involving high entropy and systemic dissolution. Contra apocalypsis: only rational behavior effectuated through strategies of sustainability can further the ultimate human goal of species survival. In interrelating individual and collective agency, the presentation suggests means to constrain dysfunctional groups or societies which might pursue activities which harm themselves, others, or the sole planet currently supporting human life.


David Wadley is a teaching and research academic working across human geography and regional and town planning in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Following publication earlier this year of his book, The City of Grace: An Urban Manifesto, which engages high-level urban modelling, he has undertaken systems analytic work applying to the natural environment (as in this seminar) and to global labour dynamics (as in the future of work in an era of technological disruption).


This seminar will be held using the video conferencing software Zoom. If you would like the link, please email