Sander Van der Leeuw (Arizona State University)
The paper will present a personal vision of the difficult years our world is facing, and of the role that the TIMES project can play in it. Our world system, under the pressure of globalization, is hitting a ceiling in which local, regional, bottom-up economic and identity issues are raising populist tendencies exploited by politicians, which is a highly combustible mixture. We need urgently to reduce tensions and arrive at a more balanced approach to the future of our planetary system. Education is a crucial element in that process, and that is where TIMES comes in.
Sander van der Leeuw is an archeologist and historian by training, specializing in the long-term interactions between humans and their environments. He is recognized as a pioneer in the application of the Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) approach to socio-environmental challenges, technology and innovation. In the 1990's he coordinated for the European Union a series of interdisciplinary research projects using the CAS perspective on socio-natural interactions and modern environmental problems, spanning all the countries along the northern Mediterranean rim – the first of its kind. In the 2000's he co-directed an (equally EU-funded) project on invention and innovation from a CAS perspective. He was the founding director of Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and Dean of the School of Sustainability. He is now a Foundation professor both schools and co-director of the Biosocial Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative at ASU. He also is an External Professor of the Santa Fe Institute, a Corresponding Member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences and held a Chair at the Institut Universitaire de France. In 2012, he was awarded the title "Champion of the Earth for Science and Innovation" by the United Nations Environment Program.