Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Småland Transition

I still can’t believe it, but about two weeks ago I wrote my last exam. I’m not gonna lie to you: it’s an amazing feeling and a great relief to have all the “course work” done. Apart from that I am really excited about working on my master thesis for the next months. While it is a little scary it is also a totally different way of working and THE final spurt, of course.

To celebrate being exam-free and to make the transition towards the thesis mind-set, me and some friends went to a cabin in Småland in Southern Sweden last week. It was a great decision. We worked on our theses a few hours every day and spent the rest of the time out in the forest and in the sauna. I always tend to forget how purifying and recovering nature can be. Now I feel super relaxed and ready to focus on my thesis project, which by the way deals with behavioral effects in the choice of transportation modes, broadly spoken.

Here are some pictures from Småland (credit to Johanna T. for all of them):

UltiMat Ultuna – Part 1

Tjena! [That’s how the reeeaaaally cool kids say hi ;-)]

Today I am finally trying out something I have been looking forward to for weeks: UltiMat Ultuna!

What Is UltiMat Ultuna

UltiMat (swedish “mat” = “food”) is the student union’s non-profit food cooperative. Once a month you can order food from local farmers and you pick it up on the SLU campus. Apart from that UltiMat organizes markets, workshops and field trips to their suppliers I think it’s a great concept and became a member a few months ago, but it was always impossible for me to be here at the pick-up dates. That is why I had to postpone my first order again and again. But “today’s the day I’m gonna make it happen…”

How Does It Work

As this is my first order I am definitely not an expert yet, but it seems super easy. First you have to become a member by seding an email. Be aware that when you first order, you have to pay a membership fee of 25 SEK. After you have signed up you receive a monthly  email with a link to a google document, where you can place your order. The email also tells you the pick-up date and time (~2 weeks later). Then all you need to do is to pay for your order and go pick it up.

What Do They Sell

As far as I know the selection of food varies over the seasons. Right now, they have different sorts of flour, peas, eggs, oats, potatoes, beets, onions, raddish, etc. but also lamb, beef and many different types of cheese on their list.

I am really looking forward to trying this out and I will write a second post once I receive the food! If you are interested in UltiMat, you can find more information in Swedish and English on their website.

Have a great day, everybody!

/Franzi

 

 

 

Jubilee: 25 years of Cemus!

Uppsala’s Center for Sustainable Development, a collaboration between SLU and UU, started the celebrations for its 25th anniversary today. Bengt Gustafsson, professor in astrophysics and one of the supporting founders of Cemus, gave a lecture on the history of the center and the future challenges of sustainability.

While during the 1970s there were already several attempts to start centers for interdisciplinary studies, it took another two decades before students succeeded in establishing the first student-driven course at Cemus. That course was called “Man and Nature” (1992) and attracted more than 500 applications. Cemus was born and has been established over at least 10 generations of students – unfortunately as Bengt remarked “sustainability is a sustainable issue”.

Thus he devoted the second part of his lecture to future problems and challenges. He talked about many issues that concern the Anthropocene (the age of significant human impact on our planet). Some of them like digitalization, globalization or ecosystems are more obvious, but he mentioned things like world views, religion and moral as well. While I agree that a shift from collectivism towards individualism can be seen (at least in many of the Westernized cultures), I think that the Internet was judged a little too hard. Although censorship and surveillance are huge problems in many countries, the World Wide Web allows for tremendous steps in democratization processes or in improvements of certain human rights (such as education). An interesting approach Bengt talked about was the transformation of pilgrims to tourists; the former aiming to see a certain destination and learn about it and the latter more or less walking the Earth blindly. This is obviously too simplified, yet it contains a grain of truth.

What I really liked about Bengt was that he was trying to convince us to shed some hope. He kept coming back to the famous three Japanese apes and the premise that scientists need to see the evil, or bad. It’s their obligation to look at it and to do something about it. While I think this should not only hold for scientists, but for all of us, it was really great to include it in the lecture. Bengt finished off with a few recommendations, three of which I want to share: (1) see and report truthfully, (2) keep up the dialogue with other people and with your own conscience and (3) provide hope for those who have none.

Thanks to Bengt for a really nice talk and some interesting thoughts!

 

Have a good week everybody,

Franzi

Your Plate. Our Planet – The Future of Food

This is a day I have wanted to write about all along, but I didn’t have the time. So may I introduce – with a big fat delay: the Nobel Week Dialogue in Stockholm.

The event is held every year within the scope of the Nobel price, this particular one was on 9 December 2016. It was the first time I visited this dialogue, which aims to bring together science and society. A good timing, I think, as the topic “The Future of Food” was particularly interesting. There were numerous outstanding and renowned experts – among them six Nobel laureates – talking on the issue.

Together with two friends I had signed up for the event weeks in advance, since the number of visitors is limited, of course, and the free tickets “sold” like hot cakes. So on the 9th we took an early train to Stockholm for a fabulous experience.

During the introduction (you could comment or ask questions live using your smartphone), I particularly favored Johan Rockström’s talk. The director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre underlined the importance of scientifically correct positioning of food. He reminded that food production and agriculture are the largest contributors to climate change through high emissions of greenhouse gases, the largest fresh water and land use, as well as a causing major biodiversity loss. He sees the need for a global transition towards a more sustainable food mainstream, which internalizes all externalities (the “real planetary costs”).

Another very impressive person throughout the whole day was Muhammad Yunus. The 2006 Peace Laureate promoted his ideas of social entrepreneurship in different contexts. I have been following up on these issues a bit before, after we had talked about Not-For-Profit businesses in the CEMUS course and I am actually really excited about this problem solving approach. Yunus suggested amusedly that instead of letting banks decide if people are creditworthy, we should ask if the banks are “people worthy”. It was a real pleasure to listen to him.

Many, many issues around food, like the influence of large food corporations, social eating habits, the digitalization of agriculture, initiatives to reduce food waste, etc. were addressed that day. I was a little disappointed about the afternoon panels. We decided to join a panel discussion about whether we can continue to eat meat and one on what it would take to build a sustainable food system. Unfortunately, both questions weren’t really answered. Most of the meat discussion revolved around different production methods and how we can maintain today’s meat consumption habits. Little was said about the possibility of reducing the amount of meat we eat instead.

The day was rounded off more relaxed with a reading by Patti Smith and a talk on creativity and inspiration with the Nobel laureates. Overall it was an amazing experience. Though I didn’t receive the easy answers I was hoping for (but rather many more questions – as always) it was so fun and inspiring.

If you ever have the possibility to be in Stockholm at the right time and you want to be inspired, I can really recommend joining this dialogue.

I wish you all a nice winter weekend!

/Franzi