Topic: Climatic-ecological stresses fostered Western cultural dynamics in the past 2,500 years
Guest speakers: Prof. David D. Zhang
Date & Time: 1pm-2pm, 25 May 2021
We have limited knowledge on what generated cultural dynamics to strengthen human resilience to overcome the climate-induced stresses. Although humans’ highly-developed mental ability could enable human more resilient in history, no studies ever empirically explained or even scientifically proved how and when such dynamics arose. We therefore explored the associations among climatic conditions, the evolutional dynamics of human thinkers and their thoughts, and human ecological-socioeconomic conditions in the past 2,500 years in Europe.
The results from quantitative modellings and causal analyses confirm that climatic-ecological stresses led to human ecological-socioeconomic crises, and thereby largely increased twice of the thinkers’ number and their thoughts’ impact across different philosophies in truth, knowledge and ethics for adaptation at multi-decadal to centennial temporal scales, especially in spirituality-oriented mentality. The process of the stress-generated cultural dynamics displays some similarities with the stress-induced mutagenesis in organism evolution.
In conclusion, climatic-ecological stresses brought about the booming in the number of thinkers and impacts of their thoughts and flourishing of philosophy. Such stress-regenerated cultural dynamics implies that the current climate-change threat may stimulate another thriving phase of cultural selection and lift humans to the next homeostatic plateau of civilization. The findings have also extended the cognate scope of psychological, sociological and civilization studies.
About the Speaker:
Professor David Dian ZHANG is an Overseas Distinguished Professor of Chinese government and employed by Guangzhou University as a chair professor in the Hundred-Talent Program. He was served as the head of Department of Geography (11th in 2021 in QS World University Rankings for Geography) at The University of Hong Kong for two terms and served as the Asia Editor in a top-ranking international journal, Progress in Physical Geography, for 5 years.
Professor Zhang obtained his PhD degree from The University of Manchester in 1991. He has been engaging in the research and teaching at The University of Manchester, The University of the West Indies, and The University of Hong Kong, during which he has published more than 200 academic articles, with over 120 of them published on international journals (SCI and SSCI), including top academic journals, such as Science and PNAS. In the recent decade, he has been awarded Second Prize of Natural Sciences Award from Ministry of Education of China, the title of “Prestigious Fellow” by the Hong Kong government, and “Outstanding Researcher Award” as well as “Research Output Prize” (twice) by The University of Hong Kong. He also taught over 20 courses in his academic career.
Prof. Zhang is famous for his multi-disciplinary innovative studies that cover many regions of the world. His research fields include Earth sciences, historical big data, geography, environmental sciences, archaeology, and humanities.