Humans are altering the hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere in unprecedented ways. Since the late 1980s, a range of geoscience disciplines (such as climatology and ecology) have shown humans to be a “planetary force.” The scale, scope, and magnitude of people’s combined activities threaten to take the planet’s environmental systems out of their Holocene state. This not only raises new research questions for the academic community (such as “What is the best way for a low-income, low-lying country to adapt to sea-level rise?”). It also invites the community to rethink its role in relation to the societies that fund its research and will experience profound impacts of global environmental change. In turn, this rethink raises the question of what kind of research will best suit a change of role. In recent years some global change researchers have called for a “new social contract.” These calls challenge the “old” social contract wherein academic independence was assured by governments so long as universities produced a succession of benefits to society on the basis of both fundamental (non-applied) research and “use-inspired” inquiry and invention. The new social contract directs global change researchers to produce much more of the latter, namely “decision-relevant” knowledge (for governments and other stakeholders). This means that global change research (GCR) will become less geoscience dominated and include more social science and even humanities content: after all, it is human activities that are both the cause of, and solution to, our planetary maladies. A more applied and people-focused GCR community promises to deliver many benefits in the years ahead. However, there are some problems with the way a new social contract is currently being conceived. Unless these problems are addressed, the GCR community will arguably serve societies worldwide far less well than it could and should do. This review describes the old and new social contract ideas in relation to present and future GCR. It does so both descriptively and in a critically constructive way, presenting arguments for a truly new social contract for GCR.
Dorothy N. Gamble and Marie Weil
Major social changes resulting from globalization, the increase in multicultural societies, and growing concerns for human rights, especially for women and girls, will affect all community practice in this century. Community-practice processes—organizing, planning, sustainable development, and progressive social change—are challenged by these trends and the ethical dilemmas they pose. Eight distinct models of community-practice intervention are described with examples from around the globe. The values and ethics that ground community-practice interventions are drawn from international and national literature. Model applications are identified for work with groups, urban and rural communities, organizations and coalitions, and in advocacy and leadership for social justice and human rights.
Hao Liang and Luc Renneboog
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to the incorporation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into corporate management, financial decision-making, and investors’ portfolio decisions. Socially responsible firms are expected to internalize the externalities they create (e.g., pollution) and be accountable to shareholders and other stakeholders (employees, customers, suppliers, local communities, etc.). Rating agencies have developed firm-level measures of ESG performance that are widely used in the literature. However, these ratings show inconsistencies that result from the rating agencies’ preferences, weights of the constituting factors, and rating methodology. CSR also deals with sustainable, responsible, and impact investing. The return implications of investing in the stocks of socially responsible firms include the search for an EGS factor and the performance of SRI funds. SRI funds apply negative screening (exclusion of “sin” industries), positive screening, and activism through engagement or proxy voting. In this context, one wonders whether responsible investors are willing to trade off financial returns with a “moral” dividend (the return given up in exchange for an increase in utility driven by the knowledge that an investment is ethical). Related to the analysis of externalities and the ethical dimension of corporate decisions is the literature on green financing (the financing of environmentally friendly investment projects by means of green bonds) and on how to foster economic decarbonization as climate change affects financial markets and investor behavior.
Rosemary Papa and Fenwick W. English
Educational leaders in many countries have come to realize that (a) many of their problems are similar to those in other nations; (b) some of those problems fall outside the boundaries of the nation-state and involve many countries; (c) not only does the problem of social, material, and political inequalities fall outside the purview of the school to resolve, but beyond basic literacy and numeracy skills, schools tend to reproduce such inequalities; and (d) an awareness of educational issues when shared and dissected can present new opportunities for the local leader. Educational Leader without Borders (ELWB) is a group of international scholars and researchers who have joined together to study and discuss their potential solutions outside the politics of the local nation-state. An urgent situation has developed as mass migrations have erupted from climate change and war (leading to failed states) and from neoliberal attacks on promoting solutions for schools, thus further eroding schools’ efficacy for children of the poor and disenfranchised. The most difficult problems are those resulting from long-standing cultural practices which are deeply embedded in the public mindset and past traditions. Misogyny is one such tradition. It begins with denying young girls access to formal schooling in many parts of the world, excluding them when menstruation begins, and following the cultural traditions that support limiting rural boys in their education. Neoliberal pursuits have erupted and expanded the chasm between those-who-have and those-who-have-not. Western education is bashed and seen as polluted by these neoliberal norms. As ELWB scholars, we wrestle with the research done on others by others as the field of education is a context-bound integration of the society within which it is embedded. The context is shaped by the history, culture, and political policies of the specific nation state which are heavily influenced especially by economic and military considerations. Global awareness of issues, we believe as educational leaders, raise the possibilities of greater local understanding and ultimately on-the-ground actions by those immediately affected: school leadership, staffs, students, families, and communities. The counternarrative for this is the one-size-fits-all educational neoliberal approach found in the growing tentacles of artificial intelligence and all of its media supports. ELWB seeks new knowledge that is enhanced by all that technology offers but is not bound by it. We believe that human interactions are steeped in promising practices, with localized actions and the belief that education offers happiness in life while supporting the planet earth. This is the goal of the ELWB.
Dorothy N. Gamble
This entry describes how the viability of long-term human social systems is inextricably linked to human behavior, environmental resources, the health of the biosphere, and human relationships with all living species. New ways of thinking and acting in our engagement with the biosphere are explored, with attention to new ways of measuring well-being to understand the global relationships among human settlements, food security, human population growth, and especially alternative economic efforts based on prosperity rather than on growth. The challenge of social work is to engage in socioecological activities that will prevent and slow additional damage to the biosphere while at the same time helping human populations to develop the cultural adaptation and resilience required to confront increasing weather disasters; displacement resulting from rising seas; drought conditions that severely affect food supplies; the loss of biodiversity, soils, forests, fisheries, and clean air; and other challenges to human social organizations.
Joseph M. Wronka
At the heart of social work, human rights are a set of interdependent guiding principles having implications for meta-macro (global), macro (whole population), mezzo (at risk), micro (clinical), meta-micro (everyday life), and research interventions to eradicate social malaises and promote well-being. They can be best understood vis-à-vis the UN Human Rights Triptych. This consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, increasingly referred to as customary international law on the center panel; the guiding principles, declarations, and conventions following it, on the right panel—like the conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); and implementation mechanisms, on the left panel—like the filing of country reports on compliance to conventions, the Universal Periodic Review, thematic and country reports by special rapporteurs, and world conferences. Briefly, this powerful idea, which emerged from the ashes of World War II, emphasizes five crucial notions: human dignity; non-discrimination; civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; and solidarity rights. Whereas this article emphasizes issues pertaining to the United States, it touches upon other countries as appropriate, calling for a global vision in the hopes that every person, everywhere, will have their human rights realized. Only chosen values endure. The challenge, through open discussion and debate, is the creation of a human rights culture, which is a lived awareness of these principles in one's mind, heart, and body, integrated dragged into our everyday lives. Doing so will require vision, courage, hope, humility, and everlasting love, as the indigenous spiritual leader Crazy Horse reminds us.