For the first half of 2019, I was polishing an idea for a PhD research in History and Philosophy of Technology. Thanks to a grant given to me by the University of Twente (which covered 6 months of salary), I could develop a full research proposal in which I explain the questions and methods I would use to expand our understanding of how Internet platforms are having a crucial impact on the political response to climate change.
On September, this proposal was awarded the ‘Twente Graduate School’ (TGS) Award of 2019. The award came with a bit of cash, a huge bouquet of flowers, but most importantly, it put me in a great position to actually carry out the research I dream of doing!
Instead of explaining what the research proposal is all about, I will let you check out the video and hopefully provide some more details soon! Enjoy 🙂
This article was first published in U-Today. You can check the original publication following thislink.
As a response to the latest scientific reports that warn of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss, UT students are joining the global movement of ‘Extinction Rebellion’ by forming an activist group in Enschede. Two members of this recently formed group are explaining how to bring awareness about these issues.
Extinction Rebellion is a global movement doing nonviolent protests to push for policies that prevent environmental breakdown. The movement started last year in the United Kingdom and has quickly spread to different countries around the world, including The Netherlands.
‘Extinction Rebellion Enschede’ started assembling last April, after the association Sustain organized a talk about Extinction Rebellion at the DesignLab. ‘The talk brought everyone together, at least from the UT, and that catalyzed the whole process,’ says Channah Hilhorst, a 20-year-old ATLAS student. During this talk, Hilhorst met Linda Brumme, a 22-year-old psychology student, who recalls: ‘It took some time to get started but two weeks after the talk we had our first meeting.’
The group is holding weekly meetings to plan what actions to take in the near future. ‘The first step is to have information talks, to see who’s interested and give people a network to communicate,’ explains Brumme.
The students are also considering doing nonviolent protests in the city, like ‘die-ins,’ where people lay down on the floor and act dead, or ‘swarmings,’ blocking the traffic for a few minutes. ‘This is to express the urgency of the situation. But what you don’t want is people thinking that you’re an irrational fanatic protester because that’s not the philosophy behind Extinction Rebellion. It’s all based on science so you have to be careful of how you come across,’ says Hilhorst.
When asked whether the group has specific demands for the UT, Hilhorst tells that ‘part of what Extinction Rebellion wants is for universities to educate students on what’s going on in the world.’ To what Brumme adds that ‘this is aligned with Extinction Rebellion’s first demand of telling the truth about the climate crisis.’
Hilhorst mentions that although sustainability is part of the University’s vision for 2030, it’s still unclear how they’ll reach an adequate goal. ‘I think they’re trying. As a student, I feel you can learn what sustainability is, but it’s still not connected to a feeling of societal responsibility.’
‘You could choose courses that go in that direction, but it’s up to the students whether they want to learn about it and it’s easy to miss it. I think this should be taught always and from the beginning,’ reflects Brumme.
BUILDING A STABLE NETWORK
Right now, the activist group is only constituted by UT students. However, they’re aiming to engage more citizens in the initiative. ‘It’s nice that students organize these things but students can be quite fluid. They are in the city for some five years and then leave. We want to build a stable network of people that work here and live here,’ explains Brumme.
To achieve this goal, they’re organizing a talk next Tuesday at Tankstation, which will be given by Paul Hendriksen, a member from Extinction Rebellion Deventer. ‘What Paul will do is bring together the latest insights on climate science. He gives numbers and facts, which are really important to base our decisions on. He explains in which state the world is because many people don’t know yet that there’s a climate crisis. After that, he will talk about Extinction Rebellion’s demands and what they’re doing because there’s so much going on already,’ says Brummer.
The students will organize more open talks where they will discuss where and when to take action. All their events will be published on their new Facebook page.
The text below is one of the columns I wrote for the U-Today journal. You can check the original publication following this link.
Ana in de Trein
I’ve been trying to decipher why the bondings between students who meet on Campus feel so unique. Beyond that vibe of easygoingness, there is something else. It feels as if everybody is in a hurry to know each other better, to become closer friends. And then it hits me: sooner, rather than later, everything will disappear. Our study programs will be over. Our time in Enschede is limited.
Promises of going to visit each other at our hometowns and keeping constant contact through social media are genuine, yet ideal. This setting in which we have built our friendships is temporary. What we have right here, right now, is golden.
How could we conceive gold in such a short period of time?
It might result from a combination of the novel spaces on Campus we inhabit. Concrete, wood and glass buildings amongst forest trees, lakes, and bushes. The mostly rainy days when we gather in warm, dimly lit, wood-scented pubs at the Oude Market to click glasses full of Grolsch beer. The weird accents, habits, and stories of people which countries of origin we could hardly locate on a map before meeting them. And finding out, after all, that we have many things in common. We understand each other’s concerns. We laugh at each other’s jokes.
All of it, together, like a mysterious process of alchemy we cannot entirely comprehend, culminates in the creation of the most precious element. Good times, crazy laughs. Running together along the platform to catch a train, getting that last round of drinks before the bar closes, venting out over a cup of coffee how hard it is to adapt to this fleeting yet demanding environment. Coined, far from home, in the heart of a random small city in the middle of nowhere: friendship and companionship in its purest form.
Next thing you know, people are accepting jobs overseas. They’re flying back home, settling down in remote places. Everyone’s spread out across the world once again to live their own adventures. And what felt like an ongoing rollercoaster of intense experiences is now imprinted on our memories like a projection of photographs switching a hundred frames per second. So fast, that we are unable to appreciate a given one in that much detail anymore.
Will we be left feeling like we have missed that alchemy formula, incapable of recreating those good times, bounded to reminisce about them? Perhaps that’s why we relish our gold while we can hold it.
We stick together. We overcome our hesitations to give out free hugs, compliment our fellows, express what is in our hearts. All because we know that, after all, that precious gold is ephemeral.