Wer gab uns den Schwamm, um den ganzen Horizont wegzuwischen?
Was thaten wir, als wir diese Erde von ihrer Sonne losketteten?
Wohin bewegt sie sich nun?
Wohin bewegen wir uns?
Fort von allen Sonnen?
Stürzen wir nicht fortwährend?
Und rückwärts, seitwärts, vorwärts, nach allen Seiten?
Giebt es noch ein Oben und ein Unten?
Irren wir nicht wie durch ein unendliches Nichts?
Haucht uns nicht der leere Raum an?
Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon?
What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun?
Whither is it moving now?
Whither are we moving now?
Away from all suns?
Are we not perpetually falling?
Backwards, sideward, forward, in all directions?
Is there any up or down left?
Are we not straying as though through Infinite nothing?
Do we not feel the breath of empty space?
Friedrich Nietzsche 1887
Die fröhliche Wissenschaft / The Gay Science
The planet has always been core to the sciences, but recently, it has made its way into the humanities and social sciences, which have begun to engage with knowledge on how planets work. A paradigm shift is occurring, whereby social thought recognizes that societies do not live on but are part of a planet; as the planet is ever-changing, so too are the relations societies create with it. This has brought into focus a distinct set of phenomena in which planetary and anthropogenic forces intersect, ranging from (induced) seismicity to (anthropogenic) space weather. Mutually compatible with the planetary sciences, planetary humanities and social sciences help to understand how societies should deal with planetary forces beyond human control, to decide with which to merge or reunite, and which mergers to end.
My contribution to these big questions focuses on concrete projects, some of which are currently being implemented and some of which are in preparation. If you are interested in more details on any of the research areas, please contact me.
1. Planetary knowledges. This project aims to show that the notion of the planet, the planet as a method, and the respective recognition of the planetary condition allow for a broader perspective that ultimately changes the general understanding of the human condition.
2. Time design. Time is a central dimension for both humankind and its interactions with the planet. To investigate and direct the influence of temporal elements and their interactions — such as linear and cyclic time arrangements or (de-)synchronization of societal and earthly times — they have to be explored and integrated into a comprehensive model, which I outline as “time design”.
3. More-than-human democracy. The planet has to be taken into account in the way democracy is defined, practiced and evaluated. This project analyzes interlinkages between democratic renewal and the habitability of the Earth. I investigate the thesis whether the next step change of democratic quality is the inclusion of the non-human.
4. Democratic serendipity. This project explores the contributions of unexpected encounters for thinking and doing democratic futures. Future democratic societies are not shaped by intentions, goal setting or problem-solving approaches alone; they are also formed by unforeseen change, by stumbling upon novelty and by surprise.
5. Varieties of hydrogen. Energy carriers, human development and planetary dynamics are closely entangled. Evolving hydrogen infrastructures differ, for example, on whether they rely on so-called green, blue or grey hydrogen, import hydrogen or produce it on-site, strive towards energy system integration or single application. This project aims to understand how hydrogen infrastructures interact with societies and their relation to the planet.
COLLABORATION WITH THE ARTS
The science-art interface is incredibly stimulating for my own research why I collaborate regularly with artists. Together with Claus Leggewie I direct the Planetary Scholars and Artists in Residence Program, funded by the Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts. It aims to add many new explorations, endeavors and inspirations for planetary research and practice.