Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

John Sterman – From Climate Change to Political and Personal Change: Building a prosperous, sustainable world

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum

The science is clear: the Earth is warming; human activity, particularly combustion of fossil fuels, is responsible; and climate change poses grave risks to our prosperity, our health and our lives. The historic Paris Climate Accord entered into force in November 2016, but in June 2017 the United States announced it intends to withdraw from the agreement. What is the future of global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions? Will the Paris agreement unravel, or will other nations, along with states, cities and companies in the US, make up the difference? Can we build an economy powered by clean, renewable energy in time?  We’ll explore these questions with an interactive simulation developed by MIT and ClimateInteractive.org. For complex, contentious issues like climate change, change happens when people learn for themselves. Professor Sterman will demonstrate how their interactive tools are being used by political leaders, policymakers, and members of the public around the world to build shared understanding of climate change and the task before us. Finally, we’ll discuss what can each we do, professionally and personally, to build a safer, sustainable world in which all can thrive.

John D. Sterman is the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a Professor in the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. He is also the Director of the MIT System Dynamics Group and the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative.

Sterman’s research centers on improving decision-making in complex systems, including corporate strategy and operations, energy policy, public health, environmental sustainability, and climate change. His work ranges from the dynamics of organizational change and the implementation of sustainable improvement programs to climate change and the implementation of policies to promote a sustainable world. Sterman pioneered the development of “management flight simulators” of corporate and economic systems which are now used by corporations, universities, and governments around the world. He is the author of many scholarly and popular articles on the challenges and opportunities facing organizations today, including the book, Modeling for Organizational Learning, and the award-winning textbook, Business Dynamics.