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Fundamental questions for the social sciences. A lecture series by the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR). During the second AISSR lecture in the series, Harvard Professor Diane E. Davis delved into the intersections of urban sovereignty, ecological challenges, and the evolving needs of the 21st century.
Event details of AISSR Lecture Diane E. Davis
19 October 2023
15:30 -17:00
Music Hall

Watch the full lecture here


Rethinking Governance

In a world where ecological issues extend beyond traditional political boundaries, it is imperative that we re-evaluate our approaches to governance and decision making.

In this AISSR lecture, professor Davis explored the critical relationship between natural systems —such as water, air, heat, and topography— and the management of cities and territories. By transcending conventional political jurisdictions, she challenged the 19th-century assumptions of sovereignty that often hinder effective responses to 21st-century ecological challenges.

As we find ourselves in the Anthropocene—a geological epoch marked by human influence on the planet—our understanding of governance must adapt. In this lecture, Diane Davis tackled fundamental questions:

How can we navigate the complexities of urban environments while addressing ecological issues that know no borders? And how can we establish governance mechanisms that prioritize ecological well-being alongside human needs?


The lecture was followed by a conversation between Diane E. Davis and John Grin.

About Diane E. Davis

Diane E. Davis was our AISSR Visiting Professor from October 9 until November 20. She is the Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism at Harvard's Graduate School of Design (GSD). Additionally, she serves as the faculty chair of the committee on Mexico at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard and is co-directing the Humanity’s Urban Future Program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

About John Grin

John Grin is professor of public policy and governance at the AISSR, in the Department of Political Science. He is working at the intersection of science and innovative practice and specialized in governance and politics of transitions, democratic experiments and new forms of democratic governance. Grin mostly works on urban experiments, energy neutrality and circularity in cities.

Prof. dr. J. (John) Grin

Faculteit der Maatschappij- en Gedragswetenschappen

Programmagroep: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance


Dr. N. (Nanke) Verloo

Faculteit der Maatschappij- en Gedragswetenschappen

Programmagroep: Urban Planning

This lecture was organized by the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) in cooperation with the Centre for Urban Studies, the Amsterdam Centre for Conflict Studies, the Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation & the City of Amsterdam