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Cersaie 2010: Conferences and Seminars
Ecological crisis and sustainability

Friday 01 October - 2.00 p.m.
Galleria dell'Architettura

The seminar coordinated by Prof. Antonello La Vergata will address several environmental aspects, with a particular focus on the ethical foundations and developments in the history of ideas. At an international level, it will also consider the relationship between science, economics, quality of living and new models of ecologically responsible development.


Coordinator Antonello La Vergata More

Antonello La Vergata

Professor of History of Philosophy, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
Biographical notes
Antonello La Vergata is professor of this history of philosophy at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and Chairman of the Italian society for the study of relations between science and literature (SISL). His fields of study concern relationships between philosophy, science and political ideologies, with particular reference to evolutionism and the themes of war, aggression and the environment. His main publications include: L’equilibrio e la guerra della natura. Dalla teologia naturale al darwinismo, Naples, Morano, 1990; Nonostante Malthus. Fecondità, popolazioni e armonia della natura, 1700-1900, Turin, Bollati Boringhieri, 1990; Guerra e darwinismo sociale, Soveria Mannelli, Rubbettino, 2005; Colpa di Darwin? Razzismo, eugenetica, guerra e altri mali, Turin, Utet Libreria, 2009

Jan Boersema More

Jan Boersema

Professor, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Biographical notes
Jan Boersema - (1947) got his academic training as a biologist, major ethology, at the University of Groningen and lectured on biology and environmental sciences at the same University. He graduated in theology at on a thesis titled: The Torah and the Stoics on Mankind and Nature (English edition published with Brill, Leiden, 2001). In 1994 he became Reader in Environmental Science and Philosophy at Leiden University and at the same time Secretary General of the Council for the Environment at the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment. At the same ministry he became a cofounder and member of Forum a think-tank operating from 1999 - 2002. In 2002 he was appointed as special professor, and in 2005 as full professor, at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where he is based at the IVM (Institute for  Environmental Studies) His inaugural lecture entitled Hoe Groen is het Goede Leven (How Green is the Good Life) in which he developed a new theory on the ecological history of Easter Island was held in October 2002. His current research is focused on the relation between sustainability, nature, culture, worldviews and religion. Running title “How Green is Progress? His publications cover a wide range of subjects in the environmental field. With Wim Zweers he edited Ecology, Technology and Culture (White Horse Press, Cambridge 1994) He is editor in chief of two textbooks on Environmental Science: Basisboek Milieukunde (Boom, Amsterdam 1984, 1992) and Principles of Environmental Sciences (Springer Publishers, 2009). In 2003 he became Editor in Chief of Environmental Sciences.
In 2009-2010 he was elected visiting fellow at St Edmunds College, University of Cambridge UK.

Marco Missaglia More

Marco Missaglia

Professor of International Economics, University of Pavia
Biographical notes
Marco Missaglia teaches International economics at the University of Pavia, where he coordinates the Higher School in Cooperation and Development. He focuses on international cooperation and development economics.

Giuseppe Ferrari More

Giuseppe Ferrari

Secretary, Peace and Sustainability Culture Studies Centre, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
Biographical notes
Giuseppe Ferrari is secretary of the Studies Centre for the Culture of Peace and Sustainability at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. His research interests focus on environmental ethics and he teaches philosophy and history in secondary schools.


Video interview

Giuseppe Ferrari
Antonello La Vergata
Jan Boersema

Press release From economic to ecological challenges

An awareness that the concepts of economic development and care for the environment must go hand in hand is gaining currency both in industry and academia, with inevitable repercussions on society and the ecosystem in the broadest sense of the term. This will be the topic under discussion at Cersaie at a meeting to be held as part of the "Building, dwelling, thinking" series, in which an entire programme of events will be dedicated to the environment



European cows receive two euros and fifty cents per head per day in incentives, and their Japanese counterparts get no less than seven euros! Over a billion people worldwide, meanwhile, have to survive on less than a dollar a day. Aside from the moral unacceptability of this state of affairs, such imbalances also cause social tensions, which have been aggravated over the past 30 years by the ecological crisis, whose worst effects have been felt precisely in those parts of the world where people have to get by on less than 365 dollars a year.  


This too will be a subject for discussion at Cersaie in Bologna, which will devote an entire programme of meetings to the subject of environmental sustainability, as part of the “Building, dwelling, thinking” series. If the “corrective” responses to this tragic scenario are mostly political and derive from the absence of a still far-off “worldwide government”, the industrial world can still make a major contribution via the opportunities at its disposal. But this, in turn, depends on the commitment and capacity to innovate in the arena of products, production processes, life-styles and consumer habits. This topic will be the focus of the meeting “Ecological crisis and sustainability” to be held on Friday 1 October at 2.00 p.m. in the Architecture Gallery.  


The contributors will include Antonello La Vergata, Professor of History of Philosophy and War and Peace Theory at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Several of the major thinkers who have shaped Western thinking over the centuries – from Ancient Greece to German Romanticism – have already noted that “you can’t philosophise on an empty stomach”. It is therefore difficult to raise certain questions in contexts where desertification and the invasion of non-indigenous crops – which thus need fertilisers and chemicals that the local people cannot afford – have turned mere subsistence into a major challenge.  


But the struggle for subsistence – when successful – still leaves questions of a secondary and yet higher order unanswered: questions, in other words, of how to put a proper roof over your head, how to educate your children and how to hope for a better future. Hence the other contributions on the agenda, from Jan Boersema, of VU University Amsterdam; Marco Missaglia, Professor of International Economics at the University of Pavia, and Giuseppe Ferrari, Secretary of the Peace and Sustainability Studies Centre at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.  


The big step forward made by the economic and academic worlds in recent years probably consists in having recognised the inextricable link between society, the economy and the environment. Talking about sustainable building, the optimisation of energy resources, the role of certain materials in energy efficiency – which will also come under the spotlight in a specific session belonging to the same series – therefore means viewing the world from this new standpoint, that is now also recognised by the European Union, which just a few weeks ago formalised the concept of “ecosystem services”. This complex term in fact denotes a fairly ordinary albeit neglected concept, namely the dependence of the whole of mankind on a series of “vital ecosystems”, which include soil composition and the nutrients cycle (support services), food production, drinking water, fuels and materials (supply services), control of climate and sea levels, water purification, pollination and control of infestations (control services); and lastly cultural services, whether aesthetic, spiritual, educational or recreational.  


The next challenge for mankind – starting with the Western world, which can afford to philosophise – may be to forge an even closer bond between the three concepts of society, economics and the environment. The key to the issue is to reaffirm that environmental sustainability has, first and foremost, economic value, thus rediscovering and extending the literal meaning of “economics” as the study of the quantity and quality of relations between human beings, other living species and the environment – in a word, the eco-system.    



Cersaie Press Office - 3rd august 2010 -

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