home > News & Events > Events > Webinar: Nicholas A. Ashford, “Sustainable Development at a Crossroads”

Speaker: Nicholas A. Ashford, MIT Professor of Technology and Policy and Director of the MIT Technology and Law Program

Date: February 11, 2020

A recording of this webinar is now available – click here to watch on YouTube.

Slides for this webinar are now available – click here to download.

About the talk: “Sustainable Development at a Crossroads: Challenges for Industrial Growth, Economic Welfare, Employment, and Environment”

The most important barrier to achieving a transformation to a more sustainable industrial system is lock-in or path dependency due to (1) the failure to envision, design, and implement policies that achieve co-optimization, or the mutually reinforcing – rather than compromising – of societal goals (increasing economic welfare, environmental quality, and employment/earning capacity) and (2) entrenched economic and political interests that game (and gain from) the present system and advancement of its current trends. System-wide change requires system-wide thinking and action — and direct confrontation of wrong-headed policies.

About the speaker: Nicholas A. Ashford is Professor of Technology & Policy and Director of the Technology & Law Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he teaches courses in environmental law, policy, and economics; law, technology, and public policy; and technology, globalization, and sustainable development.  Dr. Ashford is a faculty associate of the Center for Socio-technical Research in the School of Engineering; the Institute for Work and Employment Research in the Sloan School of Management; and the Environmental Policy Group in the Urban Studies Department.  He holds both a Ph.D. in Chemistry and a Law Degree from the University of Chicago, where he also received graduate education in Economics. 

Dr. Ashford is the co-author of two important textbooks/readers addressing sustainable development: Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State (2018, Routledge Press) and Environmental Law, Policy and Economics: Reclaiming the Environmental Agenda (2008, MIT Press) He has also published several hundred articles in peer-reviewed journals and law reviews. More information is available on his faculty website.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.