Event Organiser: ICE

Engineering philosophy in the era of climate change, online


  • Webinar
  • Watch online
  • Online
  • 23 September 2020
  • 17:30 - 18:45 (UK time)
Climate change

About this event

The event will explore the relationship between engineering and philosophy and its impact on climate change. The audience will be briefly introduced to the historical context of the interaction between engineering and philosophy, as well as the associated outcomes. This will be followed by a discussion of the status quo and possibilities to enhance climate action by stimulating the relationship between engineering and philosophy.

  • Who determines the relationship between society and the built environment?
  • What is the main purpose of infrastructure?
  • Is it possible to achieve sustainable development without engaging in philosophy?

The engineering perspective will be presented by Dr Amir Ehsaei, Director of Sustainable Infrastructure at AECOM, whereas the philosophical point of view will be shared by Prof Stephen Mumford, Head of Department of Philosophy at Durham University.

The webinar will be chaired by Kirils Holstovs, ICE NE Regional Committee Climate Change Representative and Graduate Engineer at AECOM, who will be supported by Ethan Field, Parking Engineer at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and former president of Newcastle University Philosophical Society.

At the end of the presentations, the speakers will answer questions from the audience. The discussion in this webinar will be followed by a debate organised at a later date, which will consider a wider cooperation between engineering and the humanities that could help address climate change and sustainability issues more effectively.

The event is the first in the series of three webinars on climate change and sustainability which aim to stimulate the conversation about a cultural system in the industry that would be appropriate for achieving climate targets and sustainable development goals:

  1. Engineering Philosophy in the Era of Climate Change: Needed More than Ever?
  2. The Economics of Sustainability: Evolution or Revolution?
  3. Societal and Environmental Value: What is the Right Balance?


Dr Amir Ehsaei, PE, ENV SP

Director of Sustainable Infrastructure, AECOM

Dr Ehsaei is the director of sustainable infrastructure group, based in San Francisco, CA. He has experience in comprehensive and complex projects that involve water and transportation planning, data analysis and helping cities and communities identify opportunities for sustainability within their public right-of-way and their transit networks, examine their current practices, and incorporate ways to bring new technologies and methods into city governance and operations. He has been involved in projects in different stages, from planning level to design and preparing construction drawings, and assisting the project team through construction.

Professor Stephen Mumford

Head of Department/Chair of Board of Studies in the Department of Philosophy, Durham University

Prof Mumford is an author of Dispositions (Oxford, 1998), Russell on Metaphysics (Routledge, 2003), Laws in Nature (Routledge, 2004), David Armstrong (Acumen, 2007), Watching Sport: Aesthetics, Ethics and Emotion (Routledge, 2011), Getting Causes from Powers (Oxford, 2011 with Rani Lill Anjum), Metaphysics: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2012) and Causation: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2013 with Rani Lill Anjum). He was editor of George Molnar's posthumous Powers: a Study in Metaphysics (Oxford, 2003) and Metaphysics and Science (Oxford, 2013 with Matthew Tugby). His PhD was from the University of Leeds in 1994 and he was at Nottingham between 1995 and 2016, serving as Head of the Department of Philosophy, Head of the School of Humanities and Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

Prof Mumford is currently completing a number of book projects: What Tends to Be: Essays on the Dispositional Modality and Causation in Science: on the Methods of Scientific Discovery (both with Rani Lill Anjum). He will shortly be publishing his first philosophical novel, Glimpse of Light (Bloomsbury). From 2016 to 2019 Prof. Mumford was on leave, holding a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship to work on the metaphysics of nothingness and absence. The project will result in a book to be called Nothing Really Matters.

Kirils Holstovs, MEng (Hons) GMICE

Graduate Engineer, AECOM

Kirils is a graduate civil and structural engineer performing bridge inspections and assessments as a part of AECOM's Bridges team in Newcastle upon Tyne, which helps ensure safe operation of the UK's railway and highway networks.

Kirils is passionate about sustainable development and climate action and contributes to sustainability initiatives, both within AECOM and externally. In November 2019, he was elected as the first Climate Change Representative of the ICE NE Regional Committee, as well as the Graduates, Apprentices, and Students & Technicians (GAST) Committee. He has been leading the organisation of public information campaigns and planning initiatives to enhance cooperation in the construction industry with the aim to accelerate climate action and the shift to sustainable practices.

In June 2020, Kirils was honoured with an opportunity to write a message on behalf of young professionals in the industry to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, which was used as a concluding statement in a meeting between a representative of the industry and the Chancellor. The message urged the government to put climate action and sustainable development at the core of every decision and actively seek a green, sustainable economy. The statement also assured the Chancellor that civil engineers would be prepared to lead the way to net zero carbon and would support the government in transforming infrastructure and social behaviour to align with ambitious climate targets and sustainability aspirations.

Ethan Field MEng(Hons) GradCIHT

Parking Engineer, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Ethan has recently been appointed as a Parking Engineer for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council after 18 months of experience in transport planning at Curtins. As a Graduate Transport Planner, Ethan guided developers to obtain planning permission from local and regional transport authorities. He has worked on a large variety of projects including the Cleve Hill Solar Park: the UK’s largest solar power scheme with the potential to power over 91,000 homes. To support the Development Consent Order for the project, Ethan undertook assessment and phasing of the construction logistics of the development to evaluate the traffic impact of the development. The scheme was granted consent by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 28/05/2020.

Ethan was involved with many Transport for London referable jobs and was directly responsible for leading Curtins understanding of the Healthy Streets Approach to Transport Assessments and Active Travel Assessments, promoting active modes of travel over private vehicles and public transport. He attended seminars and corresponded with Transport for London spatial planners in order to support this.

Throughout his four years studying Civil Engineering, Ethan was involved with the management of Newcastle University Philosophy Society and its weekly events. He led the society as President through the year it won Newcastle University’s Most Improved Society 2018 and was nominated for the Pride of Newcastle Awards 2018. He maintains a philosophy blog which is frequently updated with academic essays.

For more information please contact:

Jade Robson

e: [email protected]