This book workshop will explore the draft text of "Ethical Pessimism: Climate Change and the Limits of Narrative," by Kellogg Faculty Fellow Roy Scranton, associate professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. The purpose of the workshop is to solicit expert interdisciplinary feedback on the manuscript from researchers at Kellogg, on the Notre Dame campus, and further afield.

According to best estimates, Earth will soon cross the 2°C warming redline scientists have warned against, and will likely to hit 4°C above pre-industrial temperatures by 2100. Meanwhile, we must cope with a concatenation of ecological and social crises so vast, complex, and contrary to our expectations that we struggle to even make sense of them. In this project, "Ethical Pessimism: Climate Change and the Limits of Narrative," Roy Scranton argues that our predicament not only exceeds our capacities to address it, but transcends our comprehension. The paradigmatic civilizational narrative upon which we depend for coherent meaning – the myth of progress – can no longer guide effective action in a changing world. Working through a range of epistemic and disciplinary approaches, including philosophy, critical Black studies, science communications, and anthropology, the manuscript argues that if we want to have any hope for human flourishing under such conditions, it must be grounded in ethical pessimism. 

Thursday, May 2

Attendance at the first sessions is open to Notre Dame faculty and graduate students. Register via this webpage.

3:00pm – 3:30pm    Introduction and Welcome: “Climate Change, the Limits of Narrative, and Ethical Pessimism” 
Roy Scranton, Associate Professor of English

Introduction and Chapter 1: Climate Change and The Limits of Narrative 
Naomi Oreskes, Henry Charles Lea Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
Robert Goulding, Associate Professor, Program of Liberal Studies, Director, Reilly Center

Friday, May 3

Attendance at the events Friday is limited to  invitation or application. 

8:30-9:00am    Breakfast and Coffee Available

9:00-10:15am   Chapter 2: “Fear Works”
Meehan Crist, Writer in Residence, Biological Sciences, Columbia University
Debra Javeline, Associate Professor of Political Science

10:15-10:30am    Break

10:30-11:45am  Chapters 3 and 4: "Ethics and Politics”
Emma Planinc, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Program of Liberal Studies

11:45am-12:45pm    Lunch

12:45-2:00pm   “Preface” and Chapter 5: “The End of the World”
Donna Glowacki, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Luke Kemp, Faculty Fellow, Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study

2:00-2:15pm    Break 

2:15-3:30pm   Chapter 6, 7, and 8: "Ethical Pessimism”
Joshua Foa Dienstag, Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Meghan Sullivan, Wilsey Family College Professor of Philosophy; Director of Notre Dame Institute of Advanced Study

3:30-3:45    Break

3:45-5:00pm   Conclusion and Final Discussion
Roundtable for all participants 

For invited participants only: To view the draft chapters of the book, click the button below and enter the password you received.

Private Page

Others interested in attending the Thursday sessions only should register via this webpage; the Introduction and Chapter One will be sent to registrants.