May 15: A joint cyber-seminar with the Population Environment Research Network (PERN)

Columbia Aging Center faculty member, Vegard Skirbekk, will present in this co-presented webinar which takes place from Monday, May 15 to Friday, May 19.  A description is below; for a list of panelists, and to sign up to join the discussion, go to


This Population-Environment Research Network (PERN) cyberseminar focuses on culture, belief systems, values, and the environment. The world is facing dramatic demographic shifts, and these are associated with different cultural values and belief systems that have implications for the environment. Industrialized countries face rapid aging while developing countries have large children and youth populations. These different patterns, and the cultural values and beliefs associated with them, have implications for population dynamics and how societies relate to the environment and how they are impacted by environmental changes and hazards. This relatively little studied area of the population-environment nexus is ripe for new discoveries.

Culture, belief systems and values are central to environmental decision making and behavior and to how people perceive and respond to risks and crises. Census, survey, focus group and other demographic data collection methods are central to understanding belief systems as they relate to the demographic makeup of society, including racial and ethnic groups, age and sex distribution, education attainment, and geographic factors. The cyberseminar will address a number of topics, including: (1) cultural attitudes and values as they relate to perceptions of the environment (and risk perception); (2) culture, belief systems, values and environmentally significant consumption patterns; (3) religious beliefs and their implications for age structure and population growth; (4) how religious and other beliefs vary by population composition; and (5) vulnerability and perceptions of risk as they relate to different demographic groups.