Category Archives: Education

Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals (12): Interview Buddhist Non Chao-Hwei Shih

Interview with Buddhist master the venerable Chao-hwei Shih.

Our dominant current socio-economic and political systems have become decoupled from the larger ecology of life. Our relationship with the natural environment and animals has changed dramatically over time. My Fellowship ‘Ethics of the Anthropocene‘ (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) intends to discuss these past patterns and future pathways with representatives of various indigenous cultures and religious beliefs. Learning from them about our relationship with animals may be a way we can begin to address the sustainability challenges we see today.

Above the twelfth interview in this series.

See all interviews at the Words of Wisdom and project page.

Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals (11): Interview Greenland Shaman Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq

Interview with Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq from Kalaallit Nunaat, Greenland – shaman, traditional healer, storyteller and carrier of the Qilaut (winddrum).

Our dominant current socio-economic and political systems have become decoupled from the larger ecology of life. Our relationship with the natural environment and animals has changed dramatically over time. My Fellowship ‘Ethics of the Anthropocene‘ (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) intends to discuss these past patterns and future pathways with representatives of various indigenous cultures and religious beliefs. Learning from them about our relationship with animals may be a way we can begin to address the sustainability challenges we see today.

Above the eleventh interview in this series. More interviews will follow!

See all interviews at the Words of Wisdom and project page.

Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals (10): Interview Islamic Poet and Dawah worker Khaleel Ur Rehman Chishti

Interview with Khaleel Ur Rehman Chishti, Islamic Researcher, Lecturer, Poet and Dawah worker.

Our dominant current socio-economic and political systems have become decoupled from the larger ecology of life. Our relationship with the natural environment and animals has changed dramatically over time. My Fellowship ‘Ethics of the Anthropocene‘ (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) intends to discuss these past patterns and future pathways with representatives of various indigenous cultures and religious beliefs. Learning from them about our relationship with animals may be a way we can begin to address the sustainability challenges we see today.

Above the tenth interview in this series. More interviews will follow!

See all interviews at the Words of Wisdom and project page.

Nieuw centrum wil dieren serieus nemen

In de natuurwetenschappen worden dieren als objecten bestudeerd, en in de sociale- en de geesteswetenschappen staat de mens centraal. Het nieuwe Centrum voor DierMens Studies wil in de wetenschap meer aandacht voor de relatie tussen beide, waarbij ook dieren als actieve, sociale en intelligente individuen worden beschouwd.

Mede-oprichter en voorzitter Maarten Reesink (wetenschapper DierMens Studies):

“In de wetenschap worden dieren bijna alleen gezien al interessant onderwerp voor de biologie, en verder meestal als objecten gezien of gebruikt. Terwijl in onze mensenmaatschappij dieren juist overal aanwezig zijn: als huisgenoten, werkdieren en als voedsel, in films, op tv en in onze populaire cultuur, in dierentuinen en in het wild. In DierMens Studies staan al die vormen van contact tussen mens en dier centraal. Waarbij dieren niet worden gezien als gebruiksvoorwerpen of decorstukken in onze mensenmaatschappij, maar als gelijkwaardige medebewoners van deze wereld.”

In januari 2021 is het Centrum voor DierMens Studies opgericht door onderzoekers en studenten van de Universiteit van Amsterdam. Door het interdisciplinaire vakgebied DierMens Studies te promoten wil het Centrum een brug slaan tussen natuurwetenschappen en sociale- en geesteswetenschappen. Het Centrum is een platform voor wetenschappers en studenten aan alle Nederlandse universiteiten die zich bezighouden met de vele relaties tussen mens en dier. Iedereen die is geïnteresseerd in onze band met (andere) dieren kan er terecht voor informatie, wetenschappelijke publicaties en onderwijsaanbod.

Op deze manier vraagt het Centrum academische aandacht voor de plaats van dieren in de maatschappij, en biedt het een netwerk voor de groei van het internationale vakgebied (Human) Animal Studies in Nederland. Het centrum wil de groei van dit vakgebied in Nederland verder stimuleren en een brug slaan tussen universiteiten, onderzoekers, studenten en een breed publiek met een interesse in de relaties tussen mens en dier.

Naast het delen van kennis en het bieden van een platform en een netwerk, gaat het Centrum evenementen en netwerkbijeenkomsten organiseren.

Het Centrum voor DierMens Studies is opgericht door (oud-) UvA-studenten Caatje Kluskens en Fien Lindelauff in samenwerking met UvA-docent Human-Animal Studies Maarten Reesink en professors Leonie Cornips en Pim Martens van de Universiteit van Maastricht.

Meer informatie: https://www.diermensstudies.nl/

Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals (9): Interview Anishinabe Elder Solomon Wawatie

Interview with Solomon Wawatie, the Weasel of the Bear Clan, a faith keeper of his culture and elder of his community.

Our dominant current socio-economic and political systems have become decoupled from the larger ecology of life. Our relationship with the natural environment and animals has changed dramatically over time. My Fellowship ‘Ethics of the Anthropocene‘ (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) intends to discuss these past patterns and future pathways with representatives of various indigenous cultures and religious beliefs. Learning from them about our relationship with animals may be a way we can begin to address the sustainability challenges we see today.

Above the ninth interview in this series. More interviews will follow!

See all interviews at the Words of Wisdom and project page.

Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals (8): Interview Parakuiyo Maasai Leader Adam Kuleit Mwarabu

Interview with Adam Kuleit Mwarabu, Parakuiyo Maasai leader. He is an advocate in the areas of human rights, environment, culture, peace, and gender in the Parakuiyo community.

Our dominant current socio-economic and political systems have become decoupled from the larger ecology of life. Our relationship with the natural environment and animals has changed dramatically over time. My Fellowship ‘Ethics of the Anthropocene‘ (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) intends to discuss these past patterns and future pathways with representatives of various indigenous cultures and religious beliefs. Learning from them about our relationship with animals may be a way we can begin to address the sustainability challenges we see today.

Above the eight interview in this series. More interviews will follow!

See all interviews at the Words of Wisdom and project page.

Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals (7): Interview Canon Theologian Ruth Valerio

Interview with Ruth Valerio, Canon Theologian at Rochester Cathedral, Global Advocacy and Influencing Director for Tearfund.

Our dominant current socio-economic and political systems have become decoupled from the larger ecology of life. Our relationship with the natural environment and animals has changed dramatically over time. My Fellowship ‘Ethics of the Anthropocene‘ (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) intends to discuss these past patterns and future pathways with representatives of various indigenous cultures and religious beliefs. Learning from them about our relationship with animals may be a way we can begin to address the sustainability challenges we see today.

Above the seventh interview in this series. More interviews will follow!

See all interviews at the project page.

Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals (6): Interview Rabbi Natan Slifkin

Interview with Natan Slifkin, popularly known as the “Zoo Rabbi”, a British-born Israeli Orthodox rabbi and director of the Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh, Israel.

Our dominant current socio-economic and political systems have become decoupled from the larger ecology of life. Our relationship with the natural environment and animals has changed dramatically over time. My Fellowship ‘Ethics of the Anthropocene‘ (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) intends to discuss these past patterns and future pathways with representatives of various indigenous cultures and religious beliefs. Learning from them about our relationship with animals may be a way we can begin to address the sustainability challenges we see today.

Above the sixth interview in this series. More interviews will follow!

See all interviews at the project page.

Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals (5): Interview Bishop Harrie Smeets

Interview with Harrie Smeets, a Dutch Roman Catholic bishop. Since December 8, 2018, he has been the 24th bishop of the diocese of Roermond and has chosen as a motto: love people in God’s name.

Our dominant current socio-economic and political systems have become decoupled from the larger ecology of life. Our relationship with the natural environment and animals has changed dramatically over time. My Fellowship ‘Ethics of the Anthropocene‘ (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) intends to discuss these past patterns and future pathways with representatives of various indigenous cultures and religious beliefs. Learning from them about our relationship with animals may be a way we can begin to address the sustainability challenges we see today.

Above the fifth interview in this series. More interviews will follow!

See all interviews at the project page.

I am not Greta

Almost every scientist recognizes this. Having devoted much of your live to perform research on a specific issue, but not being able to get the message outside the academic walls. This holds for the more fundamental sciences, but even more so for research on more complex issues, like climate change, poverty, biodiversity loss, financial-economic crisis, and the current corona pandemic.

Isn’t it funny, that a society that pays lots of money to universities and research centres, that does value teaching and research done at these places highly, but then dismisses the results of these institutes if it is not ‘handy’, and perhaps a little too vague?

Of course, many scientists are to be blamed as well. Being so caught up in their own scientific square centimetre, they are unable to communicate the main message of their research to others. Stimulated by the perverse publication system that only accounts for peer-reviewed publications , people outside academia are only left with scientific papers. Not very useful I would say.

Universities have responded to this through the start of new fields of research, such as sustainability science, focusing on research collaborations among scientists from different disciplines and non-academic stakeholders from business, government, and the civil society. The idea behind this is that we all need to work together in order to address sustainability challenges and develop real solutions.

From a scientific point of view, this is fine. But what about the point of view of moving forward to a more sustainable world?  Does this not oblige scientists to take more responsibility, especially at times when many signals in nature and society are red? Or do we (scientists) continue to discuss the rules under which ‘sustainability science’ needs to be operated? Do we continue discussing adjustments to current, not-sustainable systems instead of changing them? Do we continue to discuss the circular economy, but forgetting to discuss the unsustainability of the economic growth paradigm?

Experts should step out of their ivory towers to get involved more actively in the social debate. So it is about time for many more scientists to become scientivists. Scientivists are people that are engaged in scientific research, but also try to promote, impede, or direct societal change (the ‘activist part’). Scientivism can take a wide range of forms, from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, to economic activism, such as boycotts, etc. Scientivists should also take responsibility to transform the often, not-sustainable universities they are part of. It is also good to realize that there are different  species of scientivsts

Albert Einstein – Uitvinder relativiteitstheorie | Historiek

In a first form, the scientivist acts as a public intellectual and his or her scientific work and social involvement are largely separate from each other. Albert Einstein’s commitment to world peace and civil rights provides a good example. None of those things have much to do with physics. However, Einstein felt that he (like any citizen) had a role to play in the moral and social debates of his time. As a well-known scientist, he also easily found his way to the media.

In other cases, scientific research is the direct starting point of activism.Rachel Carson’s fight against DDT provides a good illustration of such science-driven activism. As a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carson had access to data that demonstrated the harmful effects of DDT on animals and humans. She then started an active campaign against the use of DDT with her well-known book Silent Spring.

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Jane Goodall is another scientivist in this category. Goodall is best known for her study of chimpanzees. She found that it is not only human beings who have personality, but that chimpanzees are capable of rational thought and emotions as well. She also saw behaviors such as hugs and kisses in the chimpazees she observed. Later on, she became a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats.

In a third mixture of science and social involvement, the ideals do not arise from scientific work but precede it. A good example here is conservation biology as propagated by Edward Wilson. This field of science assumes that the protection of species is a good thing, and calls on science to organize that protection in an efficient way. This also shows that science is not always neural or objective. Conservation biology is not neutral, but it can provide objective criteria for efficient protection.

Einstein could appeal to a critical sense, great reading, and moral awareness – but none of these are, of course, exclusive qualities of the scientist. By the end of the day, we are all  – like Greta – concerned people who see that our current path is not sustainable. We also know – like Greta – that there are good alternative futures and we are willing to fight for it – in any way we can.

I am not Greta – but you do not need to be a Greta to make a difference. Greta has shown that everybody can make a difference. And this movies will show it again.

See also (in Dutch): Een taxonomie van de wetenschapsactivist and The meaning of academia in times of environmental crisis.