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Panel Discussion: The Complex Space of Political Economies

October 23, 2022 @ 11:10 am - 12:10 pm

From rising inequality and the impacts of geopolitical conflict, to the immense challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, we are in a period where new thinking about human systems has become essential. Now, in the early part of the 21st century, we are at a time of political and social change that invites a novel and more inclusive era of collaboration to reimagine ways of thinking about, and addressing, these social and economic challenges. Since its earliest days, SFI has taken a maverick approach to the study of economics, eschewing conventional assumptions such as equilibrium, scarcity, and utility optimization, for broader notions of interaction, integration, and emergence.
Using our space future as a model, this panel discussion invites participants to speculate on what human social relations might look like when stripped of our earthly assumptions about the purpose and function of one of our oldest and most basic human traditions: socioeconomic exchange. Specifically, this conversation will explore a myriad of economic topics through the lens engendered by space exploration within a framework of political economy. What does it mean to have trade agreements that govern interplanetary space? How feasible are concepts of trade-governing institutions or “just-in-time manufacturing” in interplanetary space time?
For this event, four panelists representing different but complimentary areas of expertise will discuss what we can learn from our past successes and vulnerabilities, current proposed solutions to economic and political shortcomings, and contemporary space policy, to recalibrate the scope of the human condition for a more equitable future on Earth, and beyond.


Kyle Harper is a historian interested in how humanity has shaped nature, and visa versa. He’s a professor of Classics and Letters at the University of Oklahoma, an author of Slavery in the Late Roman World, From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality, The Fate of Rome, and most recently, Plagues Upon the Earth: Disease and the Course of Human History.

Travis Holmes is manager of the Santa Fe Institute’s Emergent Political Economies research theme, with a background in military service, law enforcement, education, Psychology, criminal justice, and international studies.

Ian Tregillis is a physicist and computational modeler at Los Alamos National Labs and science fiction author of seven critically acclaimed novels including the Milkweed TriptychSomething More Than Night, and The Alchemy Wars Trilogy.

Kelle Dhein is a philosopher and historian of science who specializes in the history and philosophy of biology.  He is currently a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute where I focus on my research project, “Humans, Animals, and Machines: Behavior in the Information Age”


October 23, 2022
11:10 am - 12:10 pm
Event Category:


SITE Santa Fe
1606 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Santa Fe, NM 87501 United States
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(505) 989-1199
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