Watch the recorded lecture

About the speaker

Sverker Sörlin was Associate Director for the Center for History of Science in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 1988–1990, and the founding director of the Swedish Institute for Studies in Education and Research, SISTER (2000–2003).

From 2006 to 2009 he chaired the Swedish Committee for the International Polar Year. From 1994 to 2018 he served on the Swedish Government’s Science Advisory Board under four research ministers, and he is currently a member of the Swedish Climate Policy Council.

His research areas include the science, history and politics of climate change, and the development of the concept of global environmental governance. He frequently appears in Swedish media and writes popular science and narrative non-fiction.

Sverker has been active at prominent institutes and universities in several countries and has recently published a book on the history of the environment: The Environment – A History of the Idea.


Programme

14.30 Welcome and introduction by co-organizers

  • Dan Larhammar. President, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
  • Astrid Söderbergh Widding. President, Stockholm University
  • Måns Nilsson. Executive Director, Stockholm Environment Institute

14.45 Memorial lecture: The “environment”: unearthing the past, present and future of one of the most successful policy concepts of the twentieth century

  • Sverker Sörlin. Professor in environmental history at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

15.30 Coffee break

15.45 Panel discussion

  • Sverker Sörlin. Professor in environmental history at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Fiona Lambe. Research fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute
  • Anders Wijkman, Chair of Climate-KIC, SEI Associate and Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
  • Rebecka Le Moine. Conservation biologist and member of parliament for the Swedish Green Party
  • Olle Torpman. Researcher in philosophy, Institute for future studies
  • Moderator: Somya Joshi, Head of Governance and Institutions Unit, Stockholm Environment Institute

16.45 Concluding remarks

  • Åsa Persson. Research Director, Stockholm Environment Institute

17.00 Mingle and refreshments

Lecture topic

The “environment”: unearthing the past, present and future of one of the most successful policy concepts of the twentieth century

This lecture is a journey through the history of the concept ‘environment’ and the changes of its meaning. When was it first used, and in what contexts and by whom? What does the word actually refer to? How did it become so successful in science, in culture, in politics?

Sverker Sörlin is drawing on the recent and widely acclaimed book by himself and co-authors Paul Warde, Cambridge University and Libby Robin, The Australian National University, titled: The Environment – A History of the Idea (Johns Hopkins University Press).

It is 2019 and the word “environment” is becoming a possible victim of its own success what is not related to environment? Its important early property, to be relevant for anything and everything, is starting to weigh on it and opens the space for contenders words such as ‘sustainability’, ‘planet’, or ‘Anthropocene’. What is happening to the concept today and what may the future bring?

About the memorial lecture

This annual memorial lecture is held in honour of Gordon Goodman, founding director of the Beijer Institute at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences from 1977–1989 and SEI from 1989–1991.