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Resilience: Governance in an Uncertain World

Today’s world, of complexity, interdependence and unexpected crises, is often seen to be ungovernable in traditional ‘top-down’ or ‘command-and-control’ ways. This course looks at the emergence of alternative, ‘bottom-up’ or immanent approaches to the problems of global politics, development and security; these new approaches are often grouped together under the rubric of ‘resilience’. In three two-hour sessions, we will explore three ways of rethinking governance in discourses of resilience, relating to how we learn from the past, how we can be more responsive in the present and how we can speculatively enable alternative futures. The first approach understands governance as recursive, governing the effects of previous actions and their unseen or unintended consequences through mapping or tracing relations and path-dependencies. The second approach focuses on the capacity to see or to sense processes in their emergence, aspiring to increasingly real-time responsiveness, preventing crises through enabling effects to be mitigated or modulated, often through the use of new technologies such as Big Data and the Internet of Things. The third approach, increasingly recasts problems as opportunities for learning and experimentation, which we need to become attuned to, arguing that we should focus on governing or becoming-with other actors and agencies through practices of speculative engagement, enabling new possibilities to unfold.