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.

Workshop “The Green Deal: What are its implications for animals and nature?”

This is the first thematic workshop within RELAY project.

Introduction workshop by Pim Martens & Ceren Pekdimir

‘The atmosphere is warming and the climate is changing with each passing year. One million of the eight million species on the planet are at risk of being lost. Forests and oceans are being polluted and destroyed. The European Green Deal is a response to these challenges. It is a new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use. It also aims to protect, conserve and enhance the EU’s natural capital, and protect the health and well-being of citizens from environment-related risks and impacts. At the same time, this transition must be just and inclusive. It must put people first, and pay attention to the regions, industries and workers who will face the greatest challenges.’ (The Green Deal).

This workshop will discuss how ‘The Green Deal’ is tackling this issue and give a ‘voice’ to the voiceless. It will examine the policies behind the Green Deal in relation to the role of Nature and Animals in our Society and discuss the Green Deal’s shortcomings with regard to the ‘voiceless’ members of the European society and of the regions beyond the EU that might be affected by Green Deal-related policies. The central question of the webinar will be: ‘What are the current issues with regard to the ‘true’ sustainability goals the Green Deal should pursue and what actions are required to give animals and nature a more prominent role in the Green Deal debates?’

Venue: This workshop will take place online via Zoom. Please make sure to register for updates and information on how to connect. 

Registration:  Please follow this link to register. The deadline for registration is 18 January.

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.

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.

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.

Maastricht University Weekend Course Human and Animal Relationships and Interactions (HARI)

6-7 March 2021 (Weekend Course) (1 ECTS)

Register here.

Though we live with them, eat them, love them, and wear them, we give very little academic attention to the roles of animals in society. The underlying theme of the course will be re-evaluating our understandings of animals and gauging the individual and collective responsibilities that we, as humans, must negotiate with non-human animals.

This course will also explore and consider the different types of relationships between animals and humans in contemporary society from e.g. a historical, social and linguistic perspectives. Topics include companion animals, animal communication and emotions, animal-assisted therapy.

At the end of this course, students should able to:
• exhibit strong critical thinking skills in their study of the interactions between humans and nonhuman animals and of the roles of nonhuman animals in human society.
• synthesize interdisciplinary information as it relates to anthrozoology.
• identify strengths and weaknesses in arguments regarding human and nonhuman animals.
• construct a written, evidence-based argument on a HARI topic.

Furthermore, the students will:
• Understand different perspectives regarding animals
• Understand the state-of the–art of animal emotions and animal communication

This is an interdisciplinary course, so open for all students with a genuine interest in critical animal studies and how we, as humans, interact with them.