Systemic Assessment of Appropriate Technology: land use in the Anthropocene

  • Jenneth Parker The Schumacher Institute


This paper proposes that Appropriate Technology for the Anthropocene can be a helpful explanatory and critical way to frame debates around ‘responsible technology’ and technological change. Current dominant technologies are tied up with jobs and human well-being and are tied to social patterns and orders of power. Scrutiny of technologies has to be part of democracy and we need to find new models so that this democratic political task can be more readily engaged. Technologies sit within complex systems, and have effects and impacts across different aspects of the world. This means that an interdisciplinary systems approach is essential. But how to make this manageable? This paper concentrates on highlighting the role of the ‘Living Economy’ based in land-use, providing a critical examination of current land-use technologies. In the context of our knowledge from Earth system sciences, one key criterion for Appropriate Technology now has to be determining which technologies can maximally support both ecological and human benefits. The article suggests a new approach that can accommodate different levels of complexity. It is proposed that this perspective can help us more readily identify and communicate the changes that we need to make to move towards appropriate technologies for the Anthropocene.