From COVID-19 to major climate events and the state of politics across the globe, 2020 has been defined by uncertainty.

However, humanities and social sciences can shine a light on these issues and help us prepare for the challenges that lie ahead. Navigating Uncertainty, a new podcast by UNSW Canberra, aims to do just that.

“It cannot be denied that ours is a time of upheaval, turmoil and contradiction,” UNSW Canberra Professor Anthony Burke said.  

“We can see that governments and communities have mobilised quickly to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic, recession and a changing climate, at the same time there has also been chaos and failure.

“At such a time, the humanities and social sciences have enormous value. Knowing the past that led us here, the cultures out of which we are trying to adapt, and the legal and political contexts in which we have to work, are crucial to addressing today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”

Navigating Uncertainty brings together UNSW Canberra academics and graduate students from multiple disciplines – history, strategy, politics, geography, literature, business and law – presenting new research and insights on key issues facing Australian society.

Episodes include Is the International Criminal Court Broken?, The Case for a Post-Military Defence Force and Can We Phase Out Coal with an International Treaty?

Australian politics specialist Dr Lindy Edwards, conflict and counterinsurgency scholar Professor David Kilcullen, and 2011 winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History Professor Peter Stanley are among the featured academics.

Professor Burke, an expert in environmental politics and international relations, will also discuss his research. 

“Whether we are thinking of fire, alarming new climate records, the rapid spread of COVID-19, geopolitical hostility, or post-truth politics, “2020” has quickly become a shorthand for shock, upheaval and uncertainty,” Professor Burke said.

“It’s been such a challenging year because so many crises have cascaded into one and undermined all our systems of economic, political and health security. In part this is because our institutions failed to heed prior warnings, and in part because our systems of national and global governance are struggling to cope. 

“We hope listeners will enjoy hearing the results of our research, be inspired to explore further and become more active citizens.”

Navigating Uncertainty launches on Thursday, 24 September.