the papers in this issue are based on presentations given at our thirty-first Social Research conference, “Climate Change Demands We Change. Why Aren’t We?” which took place at The New School in April 2014.
It might seem unnecessary to explain why we chose to organize a conference and devote an issue of Social Research to the problem of climate change, the most pressing problem of our time. However, that it is such a pressing and urgent problem might make it seem not such a good topic for the journal after all, since the subject is so endlessly discussed and written about. What new ways to think about climate change could we possibly have to offer?
As it turns out, there is an aspect of the problem that has been remarkably less discussed and written about, and that is the problem reflected in the title of the issue and of the conference. Despite the urgent need for action, we have seen a marked reluctance on the part of governments, corporations, and the general public to do what it is necessary. It is this aspect of the problem of climate change that the conference and this issue take on. While a great deal of research has been devoted to how engineering, architecture, land use, and so forth may be able to mitigate the effects of climate change, very little attention has been paid to the ways in which psychological factors, money, politics, and infrastructure impede change. The papers presented at the conference and published in this issue examine these too infrequently discussed but extremely important issues as well as the difficult choices that must be made to foster resilience. Our hope was to try to make clear some of what the public in particular needs [End Page xxiii] to do in order to overcome obstacles to making the changes that must be made for the world as we know it to survive.
The “Climate Change Demands We Change” conference, and therefore this issue, were made possible by a generous gift from the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation and by the extremely helpful advice of an active group of New School colleagues who were part a university-wide group focused on climate, and most importantly by my colleague Joel Towers, the executive dean of Parsons, The New School for Design. I am grateful to them all. [End Page xxiv]