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Your Brain Versus the World: How Neuroscience Can Save the World Part 1

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

Hello world! Fabian here, after a busy week in the think- and do-team.

Last week I finally introduced Neuroscience (my favorite topic) to elaborate our working culture in As promised, I will continue to talk about this field, specifically in combating Climate Change. I am now facing the dilemma of going in depth into the topic or scratching the surface enough to explain its application. I consider it challenging to balance both. It is going to be a long discussion. Which is why this is going to be my new series!

To start this series, let’s talk about one of our European Commission projects!

On Tuesday I finally participated in the weekly Tipping+ meeting, a very interesting 3-year-project, with 18 international partners and 20 regional case studies on: “Enabling Positive Tipping Points towards clean-energy transitions in Coal and Carbon Intensive Regions”. Here are several blogs about it:

This week’s meeting was especially theoretical, exploring the current literature behind Social-Ecological Tipping points (SETPs), questioning the theories, discussing its nuances, and finding practical implications to further study it. Here, SETP is referred to as a transdisciplinary concept that pinpoints that moment/threshold where once passed, allows for fundamental systemic changes. The examples vary, from financial crises to political regimes. Tipping points are agreed to be close to irreversible, but its predictability is up for a debate.

Honestly, it’s quite a heavy topic if you ask me, Cynthia could probably tell the struggles of scrolling through the literature in her blog. So, covering these topics would be not a blog, but a research paper on its own, so I should not wrap up weeks of discussions and research here.

What I thought was interesting was how “Tipping points are not the cause of change, rather emerge from conditions”. This notion emphasizes the idea that it is not a single event or is it a trigger. It is a collection from forces coming from many different angles. Hence why the analysis of Tipping points requires a multi-disciplinary approach. The Tipping+ project invites researchers worldwide from Social Psychologists, Geographers, Political Scientists, and so on.

I enjoy this acknowledgement. Aside from providing a justification why I studied neuroscience, I have a better understanding on creating interventions. Last Tuesday, we also covered “Types of Interventions” that could lead to a tipping point. These interventions vary across disciplines. From many case studies we have learned that we need not just one field to build interventions. For instance, having the perfect technological innovation is insufficient to spark a systemic change. Policy interventions are likely necessary to support the deployment. Behavior change interventions are also important at the lower-level governance to ensure adoption. In other words, a human system requires human-centered interventions.

It is called a Social-Ecological Tipping point, because it will indeed change some social structures including human behavior. And to understand human behavior, we must understand the brain. Understanding the brain will unlock the molecular basis of behavior change in forming new habits and consciousness and eventually new societies. My philosophy teacher back in University told me his main fascination in Neuroscience is because he thinks that it is the intersection of both social and natural sciences that is very much needed today.

I will leave it at that for today, the conversation will continue, and hopefully never end. This title may very well be a clickbait because I have not gone into any detail about the brain. I will save it for the next part of this series.

By any chance you are a Tipping+ researchers reading this, I hope I have not misused some words to elaborate these concepts. If so, let’s chat on Tuesday 😊.

See you next week!

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Semi-structured Interview Questions

This list of questions was utilised to conduct our European Commission H2020 research project, TIPPING+, in understanding narrative-network dynamics in tipping processes towards low-carbon energy futu


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