On Tuesday 9 October we welcomed a diverse audience to Cumberland Lodge for the launch of a new, three-volume International Panel on Social Progress (IPSP) report, Rethinking Society for the 21st Century, published by Cambridge University Press.

Published in June 2018, the report distils the work of 269 social science and humanities researchers to present the best of what social science has to say about positive social change around the world.

Official launch

For the launch night we were joined by Professor Grace Davie, Emeritus Professor at the University of Exeter and a key contributor to the report. Professor Davie was lead author for Chapter 16, on ‘Religions and social progress: critical assessments and creative partnerships’.  

Speaking about the event afterwards, she said: ‘The launch of Rethinking Society for the 21st Century brought together an eclectic mix of people. The lively discussion that ensued explored new ideas and new collaborations: between academics and policy makers, between different disciplinary approaches, and between different presentational forms. It strongly affirmed the goal of the IPSP to harness the competence of a wide variety of experts and to use a wide variety of means to bring their insights to all those engaged in positive social change’.

Having introduced the report, Professor Davie handed over to Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Director and Chief Economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a leading expert on climate change policy and energy economics.

Professor Edenhofer introduced the report from an economics perspective and spoke about his work on ‘Economic growth, human development and welfare’, which he summarised in Chapter 4 of the report. 

Our third panellist was multimedia journalist, Sofie Wolthers, who directed the IPSP documentary, A New Society, clips of which she shared during her presentation.

The invited audience also had the opportunity to put questions to our panellists.

A fitting partnership

Ed Newell, our Principal, who introduced the event, said: ’As we are an educational charity that empowers social progress through dialogue and debate, it was fitting that the IPSP report was launched at Cumberland Lodge.

‘This excellent report will be an important resource for our own work in contributing towards positive social change.’

Cutting-edge research

The research highlighted in Rethinking Society for the 21st Century has been deliberately presented in accessible language. 

The report covers all the key socio-economic, political and cultural dimensions of social progress, on a global as well as a regional scale, covering: 

  • The achievements of world societies in past centuries
  • Current trends in positive social change 
  • The range of challenges facing society today, and how these interplay around the world
  • The outlook for positive social change in the remainder of the 21st Century. 

‘Most significant insights’

Ellena Moriarty, Senior Marketing Executive at Cambridge University Press, said: ‘The three volumes, comprising the IPSP report and associated Manifesto for Social Progress, outline the most significant insights from social science research for positive change in the 21st century. 

‘Cambridge University Press are proud to publish this landmark project, which will undoubtedly generate discussion and influence research and policy in these areas for many years to come.’

IPSP is an independent association of research fellows and the goal of improving the core institutions of modern societies through its work.

You can order a copy of the report here.

We are grateful to Cambridge University Press for supporting the launch event at Cumberland Lodge.