IHRR awarded £1.75 million grant from the Leverhulme Trust
(21 July 2009)
The Institute of Hazard and Risk Research has been awarded a grant to study Tipping Points in economic and environmental systems.
Will the North Atlantic ocean-atmosphere system ‘tip’ plunging north-west Europe into a mini Ice Age? Did John Humphries, of Radio 4’s Today programme really tip us into a run on the bank, Northern Rock? Can little things, where environmental events or things that influential people say, turn into major catastrophes? Experts at Durham University have been awarded funding of £1.75 million by the Leverhulme Trust to look at just these kinds of questions. The research, funded by Leverhulme Trust, will bring together scientists, social scientists and humanities researchers from 10 departments in Durham University under the Institute of Hazard and Risk Research to focus on this single question: to what extent does the world in which we live really involve tipping points, and how do we learn to live in that world? The project is for 5 years and will employ 9 research staff as well as an administrator. Professor Stuart Lane, leader of the research programme, said: “A world of ‘tipping points’ is one where little things matter if the time and place is right. Then they grow to cause catastrophes that are almost impossible to manage. This work will develop new ways of learning to live in such a world.”