From June to October 2021, The Alternative Futures Research Hub (AFRHub), the University of Newcastle’s first community partnered research hub, has been organising a monthly online webinar series that brings together activists, intellectuals and academics from a diverse range of perspectives and experiences to present and discuss their alternative visions about the Quality of Life.
Chaired by Dr S A Hamed Hosseini, the leader of AFRN, and Dr Michelle Maloney, director of NENA, the fourth webinar set on 10 September 2021, hosts three world-renowned progressive thinkers and legendary activists, including influential public intellectual Professor Noam Chomsky, distinguished American historian and a political economist Professor Gar Alperovitz, and prominent ecofeminist Associate Professor Ariel Salleh.
The webinar is part of our University’s contribution to the 2021 Social Science Week in Australia by highlighting the historical role of Social Sciences in our troubled times.
There are three presentations:
- “Imagining the Future – if there is one!” presented by Prof. Noam Chomsky
- “Democratizing the Economy: Practical Advances and Long-Term Strategy” presented by Prof. Gar Alperovitz
- “Some Ecological Feminist Thoughts on Wellbeing” presented by A./Prof. Ariel Salleh
Our post-COVID19 communities have been fast and deeply transformed from early 2020. Quality of life will be lower and, hence, poorer, in many places around the world as we cope with the economic downturn, the fracturing of community life, the aggravation of inequalities, and above all, the fast intensification of climate change (2021 IPCC report). Planetary life is under a historically unprecedented threat. The atomic scientists’ doomsday clock points to 100 seconds to midnight (as Chomsky reminds us).
The global pandemic has also shown us that radical transformations are not only possible but unavoidable to prevent greater implosions. Living through a slow- or de-growth status – where collective “well-living” is gaining primacy over hedonistic well-being – has awakened us to the implausibility of returning to the old normal. Now is the time to quarantine our minds from the fatal cognitive virus of the capitalistic myth of “There Is No Alternative” (Hosseini, 2020a).
What role can social sciences play in such a pivotal time in human history?
The most noticeable form of systemic failure in addressing global crises is the recent resurrection of excessive belief in the power of technology while overlooking the centrality of social relations and movements. The more this approach fails, the more it becomes authoritarian. In the current age of financial austerity imposed by the corporate welfare state, universities (expected to be the hotbeds of innovation and cutting-edge knowledge) are losing their autonomy to corporate interest. Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) is facing an identity crisis in such a bleak context. HASS needs to reinvent itself to restore its lost historical purpose and connections with meaningful change. In nutshell, to become a transformative force in the age of radical challenges, HASS (as part of society) needs to go through profound transformations both in terms of its institutional settings, theory, and practice; to make social sciences a liberating force, we first need to liberate the field by reintegrating it with the present progressive movements that seek system change (Hosseini, 2020b).
AFRHub has launched a research project early this year to contribute to the rise of “transformative social sciences” in the critical area of quality of life studies.
The ‘Re-imagining Quality of Life Post-COVID’ project, delivered by the College of Human and Social Futures (CHSF), is a response to the current intertwined ecological, social and economic crises. The project aims to play an important part in articulating, connecting and strengthening the remarkable transformative work being carried out by people and organisations across the emerging ecosystem of transformative actors in Australia.
The project through its meta-mapping practice aims to build a participatory platform and process, leading to a unifying picture of the projects, ideas, movements, and networks that offer viable alternatives to the faltering status quo, and to present this as a compelling case for wider coordination and support by all stakeholders. The ultimate goal is to give greater voice to grassroots and community organizations in reshaping public debates and policies on Quality of Life and Well-living.
There are two phases in this project: first, a national social survey that maps progressive initiatives and organisations which work towards transforming quality of life in the economic, political, social, ecological, and cultural spheres; and second in-depth interviews and focus group conversations with a smaller sample of the participants.
Webinar series events in 2021
Webinar 1: Re-imagining Quality of Life: Towards a New Paradigm
23 June 2021 (12.30-2.00 pm AEST) – Chaired by Dr Michelle Maloney
- Dr Michelle Maloney (NENA) and Dr Hamed Hosseini (UON) introduce the NENA-UON joint project;
- “From Wellbeing to Well-Living: On the urgency of a transformative approach to Quality of Life”, by Hosseini’s presentation:
- “Are Wellbeing Economics a Viable Alternative to Capitalism”, by Dr Michelle Maloney”
- “Reimagining social change through connection”; by Ms Shelley McGrath’s presentation (UON).
Watch the event’s recording here: https://youtu.be/Bcsh9Y5F4G4
Webinar 2: Reimagining Quality of Life: Indigenous Visions Life
14 July 2021 (4-5.30 pm AEST) – Chaired by Dr Chris Krogh and S A Hamed Hosseini
- “The Relationist Ethos and the meaning of life”, by Dr Mary Graham
- “Ngyiampaa perspectives of wellness in 2021” by A/Prof. Daniela Heil
- “Learning from Indigenous views of quality of life in Latin America” by Dr Eija Ranta
Watch the event’s recording here: https://youtu.be/rXH2IWGl338
Webinar 3: Reimagining Quality of Life: Pluriversal Visions
27 Aug 2021 (11.30aam -1.00pm AEST) – Chaired by Dr Chris Krogh
- “Everywhen: Autonomy, Altruism and Living Well” by Adjunct Professor Victoria-Grieve Williams
- “Democracy (M)otherwise: Enflshements from the Margins of Modernity” by A/Prof. Sara Motta
- “Ecoswaraj: a Radical Ecological Democracy Towards Justice” by Prof. Ashish Kothari
Watch the event’s recording here: https://youtu.be/hlVqTKQPUe4
Webinar 4: Reimagining Quality of Life: Post-Capitalist Visions I
10 Sept 2021 (9.00 am – 11 am). – Chaired by Dr Michelle Maloney and Dr S A Hamed Hossein
- “Imagining the Future – if there is one!” by Prof. Noam Chomsky
- “Democratizing the Economy: Practical Advances and Long-Term Strategy” by Prof. Gar Alperovitz
- “Some Ecological Feminist Thoughts on Wellbeing” by A./Prof. Ariel Salleh
Watch the event’s recording here: https://youtu.be/ojBiUR3vKww
Webinar 5: Reimagining Quality of Life: Post-Capitalist Visions II
21 Sept 2021 (5 pm – 6.30 pm AEST) – Chaired by Dr S A Hamed Hosseini
- “From commodity to commons; healing ourselves, healing nature” by Mr Nick Rose
- “Marx meets Buddha: Ecosocialism, wellbeing and the pursuit of happiness” by Dr Devan Pillay
- “Post-Capitalism and Universal, Unconditional Basic Income. Change the language to shift the values” by Ms Loriana Luccioni
Watch the event’s recording here: ….
Webinar 5: Reimagining Quality of Life: Post-Growth and Post-Eurocentric Visions
6 Oct 2021 (6 pm – 7.30 pm AEST)
- “From the growth-welfare nexus to sustainable welfare within planetary boundaries” by Dr Milena Buchs
- “The Buddhist Idea of a Good Life” by Mr Ajahn Brahmali
- “Quality of life in Rojava, Syria”. by Nûjîn (Andrea Wolf Institute of Jineoloji Academy)
Watch the event’s recording here: ….
Webinar 6 – Reimagining Quality of Life: Research reports and Project Wrap-up
- Time: TBA
- Titles: TBA
- Presenters: TBA
Watch the event’s recording here: ….