Thursday, September 24, 2015

Challenging the status quo

Last week, during my address as part of the University of Newcastle 50th Anniversary Webinar on the Future of Construction, I offered this perspective,
'It is quite a significant step to be prepared to challenge the status quo. Just like the machine of perpetual war, the hegemony of global governance that we accept with so little critical discourse thrives on our indifference. Within all sectors of society, decision-making is too often based on ideology and agenda, rather than evidence, and dissenters are dismissed as naive, sheltered and unrealistic. There is a pervasive narrative that asserts that a dichotomy exists between the well-being of our environment and the health of the global economy. This false assumption successfully obstructs reason and fuels the ideological and agenda-based decision-making that we see all around us.'
As researchers and educators, how often do we really go against the doctrines that dominate our culture? Standing up for ideas that run counter-culture can impact how we are accepted by peers, perceived by funding bodies and respected by students. Not everyone has been willing to take this risk in the past. I would argue, however, that the age of dangerous ideas being mainstreamed is upon us.

As we see the popularity of political figures like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn soar, one thing is clear. People around the world have had about enough of the current hegemony. The establishment is not impressed. Ad hominem attacks against those desiring radical change is the most common response, with the Conservatives smear campaign an excellent current example of ideologues running scared. While the masses demand to be represented, apologists for the status quo grow more and more desperate. We must not pass up on the opportunity to destroy false narratives once and for all, in whatever way that we can.

In the area of disaster research, are there ideas that we have previously avoided that we might revisit? How about the oxymoron that is sustainable development?

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