MSSI Oration 2018
Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre G06, Spencer Rd, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010Map
Resilience in the Face of Sustainability Crises: is Innovation the Problem or the Solution?
Innovation has improved levels of well-being across Australia and profoundly transformed its industrial landscape. Yet, despite becoming increasingly knowledge-intensive, our innovation-fuelled economies are facing some intractable sustainability challenges. Social polarisation deepens even in cities and regions that rank high on liveability and innovation indices. We struggle to stay within a safe climate envelope despite significant technological advances. Daily we are confronted with dystopian visions of runaway technologies.
Has innovation turned into a solution looking for a problem? Or have we lost track of the purpose of innovation? How can we harness the potential of innovation as concept and practice to enhance its social value and put it to purpose in building resilience in the face of multiple sustainability crises?
Drawing on examples from (Resilient) Melbourne and across the world, the oration argues for and illustrates a more capacious understanding of innovation that lifts the gaze beyond high-tech start-ups and commercialising research towards a process of collective deliberation, contested experimentation and messy problem-solving across all sectors in society, especially community. Successful innovation can be at once creative and heroic, and also mundane and conflictual.
The oration concludes by exploring what this means for research, policy and notably, the way we think of innovation in relation to urban and regional development.
About the Speaker
Professor Lars Coenen is the inaugural ‘City of Melbourne Chair of Resilient Cities’. Lars seeks to strengthen Melbourne’s role as a leader in knowledge based urban resilience and leverage opportunities for collaborative research between universities and cities.
Lars is an interdisciplinary scholar cross-cutting the fields of innovation studies and economic geography. He is well-known internationally for his work on regional and urban innovation and, more recently, for his pioneering research on the geography of environmental innovation and sustainability transitions. His research interests converge around the geography of innovation: where does innovation happen and why there? What makes cities and regions innovative and to what purpose? What is the role of policy to foster place-based development and innovation?