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Anthropocene: Ecologies, Tensions, Futures

The Anthropocene - or Human Age - is a proposed geological and cultural epoch, marked by wide scale human intervention on our planet. But what are the costs of such 'dominance' for our common future, and for the future of all forms of life on Earth? How do these tensions implicate us all, as well as the corporations, governments, and entities that drastically impact our environment? This graduate level winter programme will bring together diverse participants from a variety of fields from across the world, and is the ideal opportunity to broaden your (academic and professional) network.

  • Dates, tuition, and deadlines
    Mode of instruction: Online (2 weeks)
    Academic dates: Monday 16 January - Friday 27 January 2023
    Academic fees: €800 read more about what is included.
    Credits: 4 European Credits. Read more about credits and credit transfer.  
    Winter course admission deadline:                                                   Monday 12 December is the final date to apply. Admissions for this course are processed on a rolling basis. 
  • Who is this programme for?

    This graduate level online course and workshop will bring together students and professionals interested in the Anthropocene from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds (motivated 3rd and 4th year Bachelor students with special interest in these topics are also welcome to apply). Understanding the Anthropocene requires many lenses and angles of inquiry, and this programme is ideal for people from a wide variety of disciplines as we will approach the topic from a multi/interdisciplinary point of view. The programme is therefore an ideal opportunity to meet people from across the world working on similar projects, broadening our community of researchers in this field and thereby various comprehensions of the Anthropocene.

    The programme is designed to investigate a series of interwoven topics that help to understand the Anthropocene: a complex term and reality that is the direct outcome of increased human intervention in our environment. Participants will be given the opportunity to collaborate in interactive seminar sessions led by the Academic Director Dr. Nadina Galle, as well as the chance to hear expert guest lectures on the topic, and discuss the topics at hand. In previous editions of this course we have welcomed guest speakers such as Prof. Dr. Mark Williams (paleontologist and part ot the Anthropocene Working group), Prof. Dr. Joyeeta Gupta (professor of environment and development in the global south and co-chair of the Earth Commision) and Prof. Dr. Menno Schilthuizen (evolutionary biologist and researcher at Naturalis Biodiversity Center).  

  • Programme description

    In 2000, Dutch geologist Paul Crutzen and a group of colleagues proposed to use the term to describe our current geological epoch. But the Anthropocene has far broader implications than only the geological strata of Earth.

    This two-week online winter course will delve into the Anthropocene from a variety of perspectives, including theoretical foundations, important texts/thinkers, and creative responses to living in what many have called "the end of history" or “the final stage of human development”. The term derives from two Greek words: Anthropos, meaning human, and Keinos, meaning age or current time.

    While the geological record already registers widespread human impact (increased carbon levels, depletion of natural resources, terrestrial and marine plastic deposits, and growing radioactive particles from widespread nuclear proliferation, for example), we see its more pressing twin in ongoing ecosystem destruction, extreme weather events, and the rising level of greenhouse gasses. The Anthropocene and global climate change have become not only geological, but also political and cultural debates that bring numerous important issues to the fore.

    Studying the Anthropocene does not only mean understanding how we need to react now in order to ensure a safe and liveable future, but also begs important questions about economic and social equity/equality, and the complicity of human created organisations and systems to the disastrous environmental and social effects of our globally integrated human (economic) systems.

    The ultimate goal of this winter course is not only to investigate some of the many facets of the Anthropocene, but also to begin to build a community of passionate researchers and professionals around the world who will be the experts of tomorrow in this increasingly important interdisciplinary field.

  • Live sessions and assignments
  • Academic director

    Dr. Nadina Galle is an award-winning ecological engineer and entrepreneur dedicated to applying emerging technologies to improve the health of urban ecosystems for future generations of city dwellers, something she calls the "Internet of Nature” (IoN).

    Nadina specializes in the translation of scientific discovery into public knowledge. She works with urban ecologists and planners on applying today’s technology, so they can make better decisions to secure a greener urban future for all. 

    Her award-winning Ph.D. research in ecological engineering, the design of ecosystems for the mutual benefit of humans and nature, uses soil sensing and remote sensing technologies in an attempt to track the city’s underground communication network of microbes that connect trees. 

    As a Fulbright Scholar at the MIT Senseable City Lab, under the supervision of Prof. Carlo Ratti, Nadina iterated several IoN applications such as soil sensors to account for soil spatial variability; high-resolution satellite imagery to quantify tree health; algorithms to understand citizens’ opinions about urban parks through TripAdvisor reviews; and diversity indices for urban forests.

    Nadina co-founded Green City Watch, an open-source geoAI collective, and led the development of an urban tree-detecting algorithm. The work has been recognized by the World Bank, Maxar Technologies, Planet, and in 2019, was awarded two Space Oscars by the European Space Agency. 

    Nadina is an environmental scientist, tech enthusiast, associate editor for Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, and advisor to start-ups and universities. Her work has been recognized by National Geographic, The Next Web, TEDx, Newsweek, ELLE, and the European Space Agency. In 2020, she was featured on the #ForbesUnder30 list for Science and Healthcare.

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Facts & Figures
Mode Online
Credits 4 ECTS, 2 weeks
Language of instruction English
Starts in January