SEAS’ new post doc Martin Lee Müller believes in both poetry and science to bring about change in the world. We talked to Martin about his hopes for joining the team and the future.
From academia to the theatre stage and back
Magnus Heie: (MH) What is your background?
Martin Lee Müller (MLM): – I have a Master of Philosophy in interdisciplinary environmental studies, with a focus on sustainability, development studies, and environmental humanities. For my PhD at the Center for Development and Environment (SUM) at the University of Oslo, I developed a cross-disciplinary project between philosophy, ecology, human-animal studies, and indigenous studies.
The subsequent book, Being Salmon, Being Human: Discovering the Wild in Us and US in the Wild, has been adapted for the stage and been touring here at home and internationally since 2016. This ongoing collaborative project at the crossroads between academia, artistic performance and community engagement has been a vital learning arena, allowing me to inquire into the possibilities of bringing about personal and social change through a multiplicity of ways of knowing, including science (both Western and indigenous), including poetry, including music and dance, and including also phenomenological and biographical approaches.
During my affiliation with the Rudolf Steiner University College, as well as during my earlier involvement with a Norwegian outdoors school, I began exploring education for sustainability in its rich and complex facets. I am a fellow of the non-profit Small Earth Institute.
Beyond the bias
MH: Can you short tell us about what you will contribute to the SEAS-project?
MLM: – I ask what inquiry-based forms of teaching would help nurture forms of scientific literacy which are at once intellectually satisfying, esthetically rich, and morally capable of going beyond the now-problematic anthropocentric bias of much of contemporary schooling.
Further, I ask how such inquiry-based teaching can help learners generate expressions of commitment, engagement, and participation which allow them to act on the premise that life shall be?
– I explore possibilities of mediating between cultural spheres and local ecologies; of shifting the conversation away from doomsday-oriented scenarios to solutions-oriented, embedded, embodied, and indeed even celebratory scenarios; and of developing local, bioregional, and global expressions of ecological citizenship – rooted in ecological literacies and concrete experiences of belonging, the ability to contribute meaningfully, and science come to life through concrete encounter and community engagement.
If, as has been argued, an urgent task of education is help locate the human again more realistically and more complexly inside finely spun webs of participation, then educational approaches to scientific literacy must take seriously dimensions of human meaning-making.
This is the realm of science proper, but it is also the realm of esthetics and ethics.
A generational project
MH: What are your thoughts about the project as a whole and contribution to the world?
MLM: SEAS is developing relevant insights, tools, and methods for a generational project: namely the work of reimagining the responsibility and the joy of educating our young in a time of climate change and ecological unraveling.
SEAS works with questions as these:
- How do we empower the next generation to turn both toward knowledge and wisdom as relevant pathways into reweaving human agency inside the multiple agencies of a self-regulating biosphere?
- What articulations of scientific literacies can teach, no mere technical knowledge, but an awareness of the adventure of learning as itself transformational, both personally and culturally?
- What forms of scientific literacies will help learners encounter their local, regional, and global ecological and cultural commons with a sense of respect, with a commitment to act on behalf of life, with an alertness to planetary boundaries, and with an awareness of the boundless possibilities of human creativity?