Between Development and Catastrophe

– The Notion of De-growth

– Changing Cities

Online conference —  October 22-23, 2020 — Online conference

This online conference is an international event with a focus on finding ways to transition to a de-growth model in culture and economy.


We have become used to rapid changes in culture, economy, society and politics. By affecting the everyday decisions of residents, politicians and business people, these changes in turn transform their underlying value structures. We are constantly facing the fact that spontaneous changes that we identify as development, or even progress, are accompanied by crises and disasters. Some of these problems emerged as early as the 16th century, so they are at least as old as capitalism conceived as a cultural and economic formation. The crises we are concerned with were mostly identified in the 1960s. We have watched them spread and deepen for decades.

  • Climate change, extinctions and the contamination of ecosystems with plastic are global and cumulative.
  • The global concentration of capital, the middle-class crisis and the growth of the precariat are accompanied by the weakening of the state’s role as a market regulator.
  • Once marginalized, xenophobia and racism are now becoming tools used to gain and maintain control, which are efficiently managed by populist politicians.
  • The privatization of public and community resources deprives local communities of the basis for empowering their subjectivity and agency, and is very difficult to reverse.

Many excellent projects have been created that contest the dominant processes. Legal regulations were introduced to compensate for the unwanted effects of development. Improving the (capitalist) system, however, does not bring the expected results. That is why many analysts and thinkers use the term de-growth to emphasize the need for radical macro- and microsolutions to reverse the direction of change.



At this conference we will address the theoretical and practical aspects of de-growth, i.e. profound changes of the system. We will analyze concepts of de-growth and urban practices of social, environmental and cultural change.

1. The Notion of De-Growth: Between Development and Catastrophe. The concepts of de-growth developed in particular over the last 5‒10 years:

  • What is the nature of these projects?
  • To what extent are they descriptive undertakings resulting from research?
  • How normative (resulting from an evaluative and even emotional attitude to capitalism) are they?
  • How conceptual (designing social, cultural and economic changes)?
  • Or perhaps, paradoxically, the voices that address post-capitalism can be identified as a testament of the growing power of capitalism?

2. Changing Cities: Between Development and Catastrophe.Changing cities are cities that answer the following, and similar, questions:

  • How to strengthen progressive cities in their relations with conservative national authorities?
  • How to involve residents in changes that interfere with consumption patterns and lifestyles?
  • How to empower the local authorities to support and implement social innovation solutions developed by academics and NGOs?
  • How to protect and restore public resources and spaces?
  • How to develop indicators that distinguish between superficial and systemic changes?

The conference is addressed to academics from various fields, local government members, businessmen, as well as members of civic movements and organizations.

Programme Board


Pracuje w Katedrze Filozofii Praktycznej w Instytucie Filozofii UMK w Toruniu. Zajmuje się współczesną filozofią środowiskową, filozofią nauki i techniki, studiami nad nauką i technologią i kontrowersjami w nauce. Jest autorką książek: Socjologia wiedzy w Biblii (Nomos 2003), Obraz, który nas zniewala (Universitas 2007), Technonauka w społeczeństwie ryzyka (UMK 2012), a także Epoka człowieka. Retoryka i marazm antropocenu (PWN 2018). Więcej


Kierownik Zakładu Filozofii Społecznej i Politycznej. Redaktor naczelny czasopisma Studia Philosophica Wratislaviensia. Zainteresowania naukowe: filzofia nauki, filozofia społeczna, filozofia polityki, etyka. Więcej


Zainteresowania naukowe: 

– kształtowanie się i rozwój problematyki kulturoznawczej

– dzieje polskiej refleksji o kulturze ze szczególnym uwzględnieniem przełomu XIX i XX wieku oraz okresu międzywojennego

– filozofia kultury i filozofia życia G. Simmla



Kierownik Katedry Logiki i Metodologii Nauk. Członek Polskiego towarzystwa Etycznego i kierownik Sekcji Metaetyki PTE. Jego zainteresowania naukowe obejmują zagadnienia logiki filozoficznej, ontologii, etyki i metodologii nauk o kulturze.

Wybrane publikacje:    The Ontologic of Actions, W: Contemporary Polish Ontology / edited by Bartłomiej Skowron. – Berlin ; Boston : Walter de Gruyter, 2020. – (Philosophical analysis ; 82). – S. 219-243. 




Head of the Department of the Study of Social DYnamics, Faculty of Sociology, Adam Mickiewicz University
He works on social problems and public policies regarding flood risk, environmental threats, and environmental protection.

Her areas of specialization and research interests are sustainable development especially in transport sector, environmental impact assessment, external costs of transport and energy estimations, and urban development. Moreover her area of expertise covers transport economics, transportation policy and corporate social responsibility (CSR). She has extensive knowledge of the transport sector acquired during research through participation in various EU projects. She has been coordinating the work in the University of Gdansk in the following projects: CODE-TEN SPECTRUM, IMPACT, I-C-EU. She is the co-author of a handbook prepared at the request of the European Commission on methods of estimating external transport costs for 28 EU member states. She is also the member of the ministerial group for sustainable development and corporate social responsibility at the Ministry of Regional Funding and Policy. Since October 2019 she is the director of Doctoral School of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Gdansk.

Bozena Ryszawska is a professor at the Wroclaw University of Economics. Her recent scholarly work has focused on the green economy, sustainability transition, corporate sustainability, sustainable development, climate finance. She established the Green Team responsible for the green transformation of Wroclaw University of Economics. Bozena Ryszawska is a certified leader of the Climate Reality Project and a climate speaker in the climate network in Poland. She is a member of the European Association of Environmental and Natural Resources Economists and Sustainable Finance and Accounting Association. Currently, she is a project leader in the EU program Horizon 2020, Scaling up Co-creation: Avenues and Limits for Integrating Society in Science and Innovation.



Associate Professor of the Cultural Studies University of Wroclaw. Author of publications in the fields of local empowerment, theory and interpretation of culture, cultural contexts of environmental protection. Currently, his focus is reproduction and transformation of public, community and private resources as well as scenarios of economic changes in the perspective of a climate disaster. He founded the Nowa Idea Association linked with the European Environmental Bureau. Jacek is the initiator of the campaign for local empowerment and limiting consumption, and a fellow of Ashoka, Innovators for the Public.


The Director of the Department of Sustinable Development in the Municipality of Wrocław – so called ‚Green Department’. Since 2018 in charge of sustainable development and implementation of new measures and standars  to adapt the city to climate change. Previously responsible for participatory budget and social dialog and as the project manager for big infrastructural investments such as National Forum of Music or the Musical Theathre Capitol, both co-financed by European Union, both city showcases.

Currently, the greatest challenge for Wrocław is the implementation of a comprehensive smog reduction programme by exchanging individual coal furnces for ecological ones and retrofitting municipal buildings by 2030. Wrocław is the only Polish city in which the Mayor and the City Council undertook the statement for the climate alert. Being the member of Convenant of Mayors, Eurocities and ICLEI our ambission is to be zero emission city by 2050.


Doktor Filozofii, (Instytut Filozofii Uwr), mgr Ochrony środowiska (Wydział Nauk Biologicznych UWr, Wydział Nauk Geograficznych i Geologicznych UAM), aktualnie studentka Filologii Germańskiej UWr. Zajmuje się etyką środowiskową, odpowiedzialnością w kontekście kryzysu, współczesną kulturą Niemiec. Współpracuje z organizacjami pozarządowymi, m.in. EKO-UNIA, Pracownią na Rzecz Wszystkich Istot, Dolnośląskim Alarmem Smogowym. 


Institute of Cultural Studies
University of Wrocław
Email: jacek.schindler@uwr.edu.pl

Our partners

Wrocław City Hall
Innovators for the Public