Category Archives: Sustainable Development

Together in an Ever-Changing World

An online course: register here!

We understand your desire to make changes for people, animals, and the planet

Like you, we care about our home, planet Earth. About the wellbeing of people and animals and the conservation of species, and we know the challenges of balancing all these goals.

We combine stories, science and practical experiences with compassion and creativity to create an empathetic sustainable, and caring community. 

This seminar is organised by Sabrina Brando from AnimalConcepts & PAWS, Irma Verhoeven from Earth Charter International, Pim Martens from AnimalWise, and Manila De luliis from World of Walas.

The connection between people, animals, and the planet is too important to ignore 

Join us on 23 January 2021 to explore your individual and our collective opportunities to act for people, animals, and the planet!

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.

Diversity in Depth: Equity Between Humans and Non-humans in Nature-Culture

Date: Tuesday 24 November – time: 19.00-21.00

With planet earth at risk, why do you fuzz over gender and diversity issues rather than prioritizing current ecological challenges? Is societal discrimination the most pressing problem when humankind’s survival is at stake?” Questions such as these are not uncommon. However, they suggest a false opposition. Environmental problems and concerns with social equity do not compete with each over pride of place on academic and political agenda’s. On the contrary, they are directly related in that they both feed off a common ground. In this webinar, Pim Martens  and Lies Wesseling will expose this common ground, by revealing how the exploitation of humans and non-humans are both rooted in an instrumentalist conception of nature. They will also sketch the contours of alternative conceptions of the more-than-human world.

All members of the UM community are warmly invited to participate. This webinar is also part of the Maastricht Summerschool on Human and Animal Relations and Interactions taking place on November 21 and 22, 2020. Participation is free but you need to enroll before November 20, 2020, by send an email to: Lies.Wesseling@Maastrichtuniversity.nl.

Speakers:

Pim Martens, Professor of Sustainable Development, Chair Platform Human and non-human Animal Relations, and  Interations (HARI, FASoS), and Senior Fellow in the Ethics of the Anthropocene Program at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.  

 Lies Wesseling, director Centre for Gender and Diversity and Professor of Cultural Memory, Gender and Diversity at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals (4): Interview Hindu Prince Jayasinhji Jhala

Interview with Jayasinhji Jhala, the 47th Jhallesvar His Highness Maharaja Sriraj of Halvad- Dhrangadhra and the cultural custodian of the Peoples of Jhalavad and protector of all life forms.

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 fourth interview in this series. More interviews will follow!

See all interviews at the project page.

Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals (3): Interview Maya Priest Audelino Sac Coyoy

Interview with Audelino Sac Coyoy, a Maya-K’iche’ priest and political scientist who currently teaches at the Universidad Rafael Landívar Campus de Quetzaltenango in Guatemala.

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 third interview in this series. More interviews will follow!

See all interviews at the project page.

Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals (2): Interview Dakota Chief Phil Lane Jr

Interview with Phil Lane Jr. Phil is an enrolled member of the Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations. Chief Phil Lane Jr. is an internationally recognized indigenous leader in human and community development.

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 second interview in this series. More interviews will follow!

See all interviews at the project page.

Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals (1): Interview Aztec Anita Sanchez

Interview with Anita Sanchez. Anita was born into a Midwest family that was economically poor, yet rich in Mexican-American and Aztec Indian heritage. She specializes in indigenous wisdom, diversity and inclusion, leadership, culture and promoting positive change in our world.

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 first interview in this series. More interviews will follow!

See all interviews at the project page.

Scientivists urgently needed!

Almost every scientist recognises this picture. Having devoted much of their lives to perform research on a specific issue, but not being able to get the message outside the academic walls (and it’s not only the government that’s ‘out there’). 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.

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 (and not so much for more understandable messages), leaves people outside academia with only scientific papers. Not very useful in the public arena.

But still. 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, then dismisses results of these institutes if it is not ‘handy’, and perhaps a little too vague?

Academia has responded through the initiation 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. Not so much for the fundamental sciences, but for the earlier mentioned ‘complex societal issues’ humanity faces today. The idea behind this is that we all need to work together in order to address sustainability challenges and develop real solution patterns.

Well, that’s a step in the right direction. However, being good scientists, this idea of ‘sustainability science’ is becoming formalised rapidly. And  – although classified by concepts such as post-normal, mode-2, triple helix, and other science paradigms – it still are ‘scientific’ classifications. With other words, it is being ‘bounded’ by similar rules that apply to other sciences as well.

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? Rules that probably will be ‘dismissed’ by the other stakeholders if it suits their purpose?

It is about time for many (more) scientists to become scientivists. Scientivists are people that are engaged in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge (the ‘science part’), 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, sit-ins etc. Scientivists are not afraid of interfering with legitimized procedures and official politics when science shows this would be needed.

On the other hand, scientivists must be aware that their actions may increase the risk of scientific results inappropriately being used into social discourses and in the media. This might lead to situations where, for instance, researchers find themselves unwittingly “supporting” an application of the generated knowledge they might strongly disagree with.

It is, therefore, not a ‘job’ (as for most of us ‘being a scientist’ is), but rather an ‘attitude’. An attitude that may be urgently to move forward to a more sustainable society. As in this era of social media, opportunities for scientivists will increase as we speak, there are no reasons not to join…unless you do not have that attitude…

(Published earlier (in 2012) by Pim Martens and Jan Rotmans)

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

Pathways of universities’ transformation for sustainability

Leuphana University

Universities worldwide have a clear mandate to participate in the endeavour for sustainable development through institutional transformation. Moreover, it is recognised that universities are well-positioned to identify and navigate pathways of transformation towards sustainability given their propensity for consideration of the extended time horizon for sustainability outcomes . Yet, despite their being organisations of learning, they struggle to set up structures to promote their own organisational learning. This is a problematic paradox as researchers repeatedly place universities at the centre of the ‘fundamental transformation’ that sustainable development demands of social actors, organisations, institutions and societies. Therefore, universities must also work on their own transformations if they are to operationalise their aspirations to implement sustainable development in their surroundings. This is an especially urgent imperative given the wicked problems they are tasked with providing solutions for, such as relieving anthropogenic pressures on the global environment and attaining population wellbeing in the face of growing inequality.

Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Arizona State University, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

We analyzed three case studies of universities that have transformed themselves as organisations towards sustainability with signature pathway approaches: Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Arizona State University, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. These universities first invested significant time, energy, and human resources in learning about and researching themselves, before embarking along differentiated pathways of transformation. They also showed that any blueprint of organisational transformation for sustainability should be rooted in the intrinsic logic of the organisations in question. This may prove meaningful for leaders (youth, academic or otherwise) elsewhere to prioritise specific asset development within their organisations, as they show how to shape competencies conducive to organisational transformation for sustainability. They also provide stepping-stones for knowledge actors in universities to navigate organisational and societal transformation towards sustainability, in light of the radical and regenerative adaptation that must now take place.

Alex Baker-Shelley, Annemarie Van Zeijl-Rozema & Pim Martens (2020) Pathways of organisational transformation for sustainability: a university case-study synthesis presenting competencies for systemic change & rubrics of transformation, International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology.

Our sustainability challenges: climate change, health, and animal well-being

The lecture by Prof. Pim Martens, given Monday June 15th

Our dominant current socio-economic and political systems have become decoupled from the larger ecology of life, and our relationship with our natural environment and the animals within has changed dramatically. This has led to various outbreaks of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases – with COVID-19 as the hard lesson learned (or not?). In this lecture, Pim Martens, Professor of Sustainable Development at Maastricht University, will discuss the complexities and connections between our own well-being and that of the animals with whom we live, and global environmental changes like climate change and biodiversity loss.