About the Centre for Critical Global Change

Home for the interdisciplinary study of planetary, health, and social changes shaping large swathes of human and nonhuman life on earth.

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From climate change and global health emergencies to artificial intelligence and infrastructural transformations, twenty-first century societies face challenges that are systemic, complex, and planetary in scope, upending what it means to live well on this planet.

Understanding the complex nature of these challenges requires interdisciplinary research that attends to their uneven effects on human and nonhuman life, collaborating with others to pose transformative questions and develop creative responses.

What we do

The Centre for Critical Global Change (CGC) is a forum for the interdisciplinary study of the complex interfaces between social, environmental, affective, biological and cultural changes and transformations shaping large swathes of human and nonhuman life on this planet.

Initially introduced by the United Nations, the concept of “Global Change” designates earth-wide, global changes related to the impact of human activities across the biosphere and affecting interlocking fields of life and experience, from climate to health.

As the flagship centre for a distinctively Goldsmiths’ orientation towards Global Change, CGC’s original approach stems from an understanding that planetary transformations underway are “critical” in at least three senses.

This is because:

  1. They involve profound dislocations and pose existential challenges in future food, water, energy, climate and other spheres vital to the health and flourishing of human and nonhuman life, and do so at rates and speeds that are as socially unequal as they are geographically uneven.

  2. In so doing such transformations radically call into question and force us to rethink some of the fundamental assumptions, values, and institutions through which modern social life has been configured around the globe.They call for an ongoing problematisation of the distinctions between nature and culture, body and mind, humans and nonhumans; of the relationships between modern and extra-modern knowledges and practices; as well as of the values of progress, growth, immunity, wellbeing, prosperity, and globalisation.

  3. The development of robust, interdisciplinary approaches to the social study of such complex, multi-layered and polyphonic transformations demands ongoing experimentation and reinvention of the horizons and imaginations that inform social thought and research in the twenty-first century— calling for new styles of critical practice, speculative modes of thought, as well as experimental and collaborative modes of inquiry.

Our Areas of Focus

Climate Change and Planetary Socialities

  • What forms of sociality are being composed amidst changing climates and planetary upheavals?
  • How are these planetary transformations reconfiguring the patterns and potentialities of social life in the twenty-first century?
  • What new concepts, vocabularies, and methodologies might enable a critical understanding of how lives are made worth living on an earth rendered forever unstable and unsafe?

Health and Planetary Change

  • How do global changes, as they course through minds, bodies, and forms of life, transform the social and political dynamics of human and more-than-human health?
  • What modes of attention, conceptual tools and imaginations, might kindle a critical medical humanities attuned to the problematic of health at the crossroads of the clinical, the social, the global, and the planetary?

Infrastructural Life and Technological Change

  • Through what shapes and configurations of material and socio-technical relations is social life sustained, upended, and remade in the face of global change?
  • How might an attention to the infrastructural and the technical dimensions of global and planetary life transform our understanding of what it means to live and die well on unstable terrain?

Contact the Centre's Director, Martin Savransky, about the work: m.savransky (@gold.ac.uk)