An odd conundrum… the fact that I love diversity. In every sensory aspect: historically, culturally, environmentally etc. Scientifically it is also what I find most relevant to understanding biology (rather than searching for common laws, I always studied the ‘exceptions’ – with diversity & flexibility more often proving ‘the rule!).
And yet… recognising commonalities is what I see as essential to tackling prickly issues in science and society: Understanding the commonalities between science and the humanities is important, and understanding the influence of aesthetics is key. Our cognition is sensory and it is informed by metaphorical/analogical analysis, no matter if we think as a scientist or an artist. (For instance art is really good at presenting ideas contextually- this is essential for developing complex metaphors – which allow us to think big, outside our box. Complex hypothesis-generating thought is sensory and contextually guided.)
2 Potential Projects
1. Self vs Other. Is there no end to our fixation on dichotomies? How can we acknowledge commonalities and middle ground, whilst preserving and respecting diversity? Sci-art projects push this question to the foreground. One project in the works combines text and art in a commentary on self- vs non-self in human biology and ecology in the 21st century (w/ Dr Steven Katona: Worms, Germs and Sperms: Celebrating Our Shared Past and Common Future). This issue is also explored in my paper in progress with Julia Sebert [link].
2. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) as science. Generally TEK/indigenous knowledge is treated as separate from scientific knowledge. Is this a false dichotomy? Are the deconstructed components of TEK and the scientific method comparable or equitable? What are the issues of evidence (including narrative and visual) in science & how is indigenous scientific knowledge best evidenced and communicated? (Indeed, what is the role of visual/graphic information in processes of knowing/remembering across time and place and how does this contribute to traditional knowledge?) Traditional knowledge mapping as a resource for future ecological practice and land/resource management is the topic of a masters student soon to start with me and collaborators in the Centre for Sustainability, Agriculture, Food, Energy & Environment.