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Cambridge Global Challenges

The Cambridge Strategic Research Initiative for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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Confronting a Deadly Landscape: Heisenberg, Serious Global Threats and Good Governance – John Barker

In this talk organized by Cambridge Governance Labs, Dr John Barker will discuss the need to build governance and economic literacy to grasp some fundamental issues that merit greater scrutiny.
When Nov 13, 2017
from 06:00 PM to 07:00 PM
Where Peter Richards Room, Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge
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“What we observe is not nature itself,” according to the pioneer of quantum physics, “but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” Heisenberg’s words have planted a vital clue about how to identify dangerous blind spots that are defeating national and international efforts to combat global threats.

Arguing that perceived complexity and runaway global problems point to inadequate conceptual and practical tools, Dr Barker will discuss the need to build governance and economic literacy to grasp some fundamental issues that merit greater scrutiny:

  • decision-making risk and what a right to responsible public decision-making would look like
  • expropriation of citizens through cost externalisation
  • mechanisms of wealth capture and their links to the capture of public policy
  • policy capture as a form of State capture

All disciplines are welcome to contribute to the open discussion, which will follow Dr Barker's 25 minute presentation. Wine/soft drinks and nibbles will be served.

About the speaker:

Dr John Barker is a Fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, a Law Fellow at Hughes Hall and Director of Cambridge Governance Labs. A recently retired judicial officer with professional experience in Africa spanning 30 years, he has worked with governments, international development agencies and non-governmental organisations on the promotion of good governance, the rule of law and transitional justice.


Cambridge Governance Labs is a multidisciplinary platform that brings scholars and practitioners together to develop practical tools designed to enhance the quality of public decision-making.

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Cambridge Global Challenges is a Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge that aims to enhance the contribution of its research towards addressing global challenges and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.


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