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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Post no. 287, 2014

I have now posted more in this blog, Utopian Realism, than any previous year. Until now 2013's 286 posts was the peak. I also posted >200 posts in 2010 and 2011.

Early human Umwelt article copy-edited

This week I responded to copy-editing queries to my article "The ontogeny of the embryonic, foetal and infant human Umwelt" (see previous posts), which is to appear soon in Sign Systems Studies.

Friday, 29 August 2014

To be course coordinator for bachelor thesis in child welfare

I have agreed with my head of department Svanaug Fjær that I will this academic year be course coordinator (emneansvarlig) for the subject Bachelor thesis in child welfare (course code BBABAC_5), with research method taught by Lars André Nysæther, at the University of Stavanger's Department of social studies. Close to 100 students will write bachelor theses next Spring, and part of my responsibility will be appointing supervisors, teach academic writing, and supervise students on project outlines.

The course, which amounts to 30 study points (one full semester), is part of the bachelor in child welfare.

To write chapter on mentions of animals in political party programs

I have accepted an invitation to contribute with a book chapter to an edited collection based on presentations from the "Framing nature: Signs, Stories and Ecologies of Meaning" conference (Tartu, April 29 - May 3 2014 - see previous posts), where I presented the paper "Animals Qua Sentient Beings vs. Animals Qua Resources: A Critical Reading of the Mentions of Animals in Norwegian Political Party Programs". The book, which is to be edited by Hannes Bergthaller and Peter Mortensen, will appear in 2015 in Rodopi's new book series "Studies in Environmental Humanities".

A full manuscript is due March 1st 2015. Work title for my chapter is "A Critical Reading of the Mentions of Animals in Political Party Programs".

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Norwegian Animal Protection Day to be held March 21st 2015; venue; homepage

It has now been decided that Dyreverndagen (Norwegian Animal Protection Day) 2015 will take place at DogA in Oslo on Saturday March 21st 2015. Events include an inspirational seminar and evening party with prize ceremony. Dyreverndagen is arranged by a work group sorting under Minding Animals Norway.

Dyreverndagen also has a new homepage and a Facebook page.


Umwelt review article in process

This week I have started contributing to the article "The biosemiotic glossary project: Umwelt", which is to be written by Carlo Brentari, Riin Magnus and myself. The review article, which is to be published in Biosemiotics #1/2015, is due December 1st.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference featured on national radio

On August 20th The Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference (Dyreetikkonferansen) 2014, which is co-organised by Minding Animals Norway, was featured on national broadcaster NRK P1's afternoon program "Her og nå", with interviews with Tore Kristiansen and Gudbrand Bakken. Podcasts for the program are available here.

Abstract on animal mortality for Minding Animals seminar

Today I have composed and submitted the abstract "Øko-eksistensialisme og dyrs dødelighet: Et forsvar for et mer inkluderende begrep om dødelighet" [Eco-existentialism and the mortality of animals: A defence of a more inclusive notion of mortality] for the 4th research seminar of Minding Animals Norway, which will take place on the Blindern campus of University of Oslo on Friday September 5th. The full abstract (in Norwegian) has been posted in my Norwegian language blog Utopisk Realisme.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

First social studies personnell gathering attended

Today I attended, for the first time, the personnell gathering (meeting) at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies. I was introduced to my new colleagues.

UiS opening ceremony attended

Monday 18th of August I attended the opening ceremony of the Autumn 2014 semester at the University of Stavanger, which included a speech by Minister of Education Thorbjørn Røe Isaksen and entertainment.

Second lecture in Ex.Phil. given at Department of social studies

Today I gave the second lecture this Autumn in Examen Philosophicum at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies, for child welfare students. The topic was: What is philosophy and ethics?

Monday, 25 August 2014

Ex.Phil. introduced to 200 students

On Monday 18th of August I introduced the course Examen Philosophicum to some 200 students at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies (ca. 15 minutes x 2). The students study child welfare and social work respectively (bachelor).

First lecture in Ex.Phil. given at Department of social studies

Today I gave the first lecture this Autumn in Examen Philosophicum at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies, for social work students. The topic was: What is philosophy and ethics?

Title of September 2015 conference (Stavanger) decided; Anthropocene theme

The title and theme of the September 17-19th 2015 conference to be organised by the Norwegian research group of the Estonian-Norwegian research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis" will be "Animals in the Anthropocene - Human-animal relations in a changing semiosphere". This has now been decided by the conference's local organising committee.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference 2014 featured in 2-page portrait

The Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference (Dyreetikkonferansen) 2014, which was co-arranged by Minding Animals Norway, is featured in the 2-page "Framsnakk" weekly portrait of Saturday August 16th, published in Ukeadressa, a supplement to the regional daily newspaper Adresseavisen. The portrait featured Susanna Lybæk (scientific advisor in the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance), who spoke at the conference. The conference had fish sentience and welfare as topic, and this is also the focus of the portrait. 

Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference 2014 featured in NRK Trøndelag news article

The Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference (Dyreetikkonferansen) 2014 is featured in the news article "Krever en mer human avliving" [Demands a more humane killing/slaughter], published online by NRK Trøndelag. The article includes interviews with Tore Kristiansen and Gudbrand Bakken, who were both speaking at the conference, which had fish welfare (and sentience) as topic.

The Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference is co-founded and co-arranged by Minding Animals Norway.

Radikal portal recommending Minding Animals Norway Facebook page

A few days ago the Norwegian political web portal "Radikal portal" posted a list of 50 recommended Facebook pages, which included the Facebook page of Minding Animals Norway (see also homepage). The article, "50 Facebooksider for deg som vil forandre verden" [50 Facebook pages for those who want to change the world], was written by Wibeke Bergheim.

The Facebook page of Minding Animals Norway currently has 464 likes.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Panel discussion on fish welfare chaired

Yesterday I chaired the panel discussion at the Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference 2014 (Dyreetikkonferansen 2014), with the theme "Fiskelykke" [fish happiness/welfare]. The panel discussion, which lasted for some 75 minutes, involved Aud Skrudland (The Norwegian Food Safety Authority), Tore Kristiansen (Norway's Institute of Marine Research), Henrik Stenwig (Norwegian Seafood Federation) and Susanna Lybæk (Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance), and contributions from the audience.

To chair panel discussion at Norwegian animal ethics conference

About a week ago it was decided that I would chair the roundtable discussion at Dyreetikkonferansen 2014 [The Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference 2014] (Trondheim, August 20th), which has the theme "Fiskelykke" [Fish happiness/welfare].

Program for "Biosemiotic ethics" session slightly changed

The program for the session "Biosemiotic ethics" (see previous posts), which will take place Friday September 19th at the upcoming 12th world congress of semiotics (Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20), has been slightly changes. All three presentations will start 30 minutes later than previously scheduled - see updated program. The session will take place at 4-6 pm. Also, the program now makes clear that the "Biosemiotic ethics" session is not merged with "New trends in bio-/eco-/zoosemiotics" (chairs: Timo Maran, Kalevi Kull and Frederik Stjernfelt), although it takes place straight after it in the same room.

My presentation "Introducing biosemiotic ethics" will take place at 16.00-16.30.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Featured in Minding Animals International bulletin #19, MA Norway "most successful MA national group"

In mid-October 2013, the 19th bulletin of Minding Animals International, which is distributed via email to some 2.000 activists and others with an interest in Human-Animal Studies, was distributed. I was featured on p. 7 (see below), as part of a story titled "Meet the Minding Animals Board and Committee members" (pp. 5-7). Here, Minding Animals Norway is characterised as "the most successful MA national group".

UiS Director of communications signals proposed debate pages will be considered

In response to my debate article "Debattsider i Univers?" [Debate pages in Univers?] two days ago, Anne Selnes, Executive Editor of the magaine UniverS and Director of communications at University of Stavanger, has written the reply "Debattsider i UniverS" [Debate pages in UniverS]. Here, she explains the history of communications policy related to the magazine, says a major evaluation of communications policy is underway, and that my suggestion can be considered in that context.

See also:

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Jonathan Balcombe to appear in video greeting to animal ethics conference

The video greeting at the opening of this year's Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference, which has the theme "Fiskelykke" [Fish happiness/welfare] (Trondheim, August 20th), will be given by Jonathan Balcombe - see news story (in Norwegian), program and info on contributors at the conference website.

All Norwegian universities asked to map and explain petroleum research

In response to the debate on the research ethics of petroleum research, where I have taken part as one of many, all Norwegian universities were asked by Norway's National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology (NENT) to map their petroleum research and to explain how they relate to research ethics in this context (see article in Forskerforum, "NTNU forsvarer oljeforskningen" [NTNU defends oil research], March 18th).

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Web portal Sørlandsporten makes Norwegian university post journals searchable

The web portal Sørlandsporten, run by the regional newspaper Fædrelandsvennen including by my good friend, journalist Tarjei Leer-Salvesen, which presents itself as a "openness portal", has now made post journals at Norway's universities (including that of my university, University of Stavanger) searchable. I applaud this initiative.

Debate article addressing lack of debate pages in UiS magazine Univers

Today a letter to the editor by me entitled "Debattsider i Univers?" [Debate pages in Univers?], concerning the magazine of the University of Stavanger, Univers, has been published at the debate pages of University of Stavanger. The magazine currently has no debate pages, which I think is a shame for an academic publication of this kind.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Animals in changing environments conference to be co-arranged by Minding Animals Norway

Upon the invitation of the local organising committee of the September 2015 conference to be arranged by the research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis", the board of Minding Animals Norway (MAN) has decided that MAN will be a co-organiser of the conference.

See also:

New office

Today, on my first day at the University of Stavanger since the summer, I have been in a process of moving from one office (KA-U-106) to another (KA-A-215). I am still located in the same building.

See also:

Employed by Department of social studies

Since August 1st I have been employed by University of Stavanger's Department of social studies, in a 50% position as associate professor in philosophy (I have previously been employed by Department of health studies, where my only formal affiliation here and now is the research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis", in a 10% position). My current contract at Department of social studies runs until July 31st 2015.

Monday, 4 August 2014

New Scientist visiting gathering in biosemiotics

Two journalists from New Scientist visited the recent 14th International Gathering in Biosemiotics (London June 30 - July 4 2014). As far as I can tell, however, no article has appeared yet.

Program change for Biosemiotic ethics session (Sofia)

Darian Meacham will not attend the 12th world congress of semiotics (Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20 2014) after all, due to conflicting obligations (see updated preliminary program). The Biosemiotic ethics session will therefore end at 17.00 on September 19th, with Panagiotis Xouplidis' paper moving forward to 16.30-17.00.

See also:

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Radio interview for Verdibørsen on poultry welfare recorded April 7th

The interview with me on animal welfare in the poultry industry, and the lives of chickens in factory halls, for the national Norwegian public radio station NRK P2's program "Verdibørsen" [the value exchange], was recorded in studio (Marienlyst, Oslo) on April 7th, with Kai Sibbern. The interview was broadcasted April 12th and 13th.

This was the second time I was interviewed on Verdibørsen, and the third time I was featured (see previous posts). The pretext for this specific interview was a seminar organised in the Norwegian parliament by Minding Animals Norway in collaboration with Norway's Green Party.

See also:

Deemed not qualified for philosophy of science position at UiA

On April 7th I received the assessment of the assessment committee for a position as Associate professor in philosophy at University of Agder's Department of Religion, Philosophy and History. The committee consisted of Troels Engberg-Pedersen (University of Copenhagen), Christel Fricke (University of Oslo) and Jan-Olav Henriksen (Norwegian School of Theology/University of Agder). The call for applications particularly stressed competence in philosophy of science.

The assessment included a 3 page evaluation of my entire academic work, which was interesting to read, if not satisfactory from my own point of view. The committee did not shortlist me for the job, despite my quite extensive experience in terms of academic publications, international networking and participation at international conferences. Briefly told, the committee members did not value the quality of my publications very highly.

Excerpts:
"We should [...] point out that many of Tønnessen's publications have appeared in very specialized journals, some of them Estonian, and that it is thus difficult to assess the originality of his work, sometimes even its quality. [...] Tønnessen comes across as a good academic writer." 
"[I]t is not the author's interdisciplinary approach that is the problem, but the way he carries it out. [... H]e too quickly meanders through a number of big philosophical issues and, at each turn, his arguments are much too sweeping. [...] In our view, the problem with the way Tønnessen carries out his interdisciplinary approach is that he often makes strong claims without providing enough evidence for them, or otherwise pursuing them further." 
"It is true that Tønnessen is clear in characterizing his own approach as some form of anti-theory. [...] the status of such a theory is in need of a defence [...] there is a lack of depth in Tønnessen's comparisons with other and more established traditions within his own field of research, or adjacent to it." 
"[I]t is a genuine quality of Tønnessen's work that it combines scholarly ambition and political engagement in an appealing way." 
"[W]e find that Tønnessen rarely discusses issues from philosophy of science and that when he does, he does not pursue these issues in the ways a philosopher of science should do. [... I]n spite of the fact that Morten Tønnessen has several international publications and participates actively on the international scene, we find him not qualified for the job in question."

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Biosemiotic ethics session, introductory presentation scheduled at 12th World Congress of Semiotics

A detailed program for the upcoming 12th World Congress of Semiotics (Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20 2014) has been released - see here. The session I have initiated, "Biosemiotic ethics", has been scheduled for September 19th at 15.30-18.00 (including coffee break), following "New trends in bio/eco/zoosemiotics" the same day from 09.30 to 15.30 (including coffee break and lunch). Within this time frame my paper "Introducing biosemiotic ethics" has been scheduled for presentation at 15.30 to 16.00.

Other papers in the Biosemiotic ethics session:
16.00-16.30: John Deely: "Ethics and the distinction between semiosic and semiotic"
16.30-17.00: Darian Meacham: "The gentle caress of my robot lover"
17.30-18.00: Panagiotis Xouplidis: "A semiotic approach to the pet world"
Including the eight papers in the "New trends in bio/eco/zoosemiotics" session, chaired by Timo Maran, Kalevi Kull and Frederik Stjernfelt, this implies that a total of 12 papers will be presented in the joint session "New trends in bio/eco/zoosemiotics & Biosemiotic ethics". 

All abstracts for "Biosemiotic ethics" session in Sofia now online

All abstracts for the session "Biosemiotic ethics", scheduled for September 19th at the 12th World Congress of Semiotics (Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20 2014) are now available online. The latest additions online are my "Introducing biosemiotic ethics" and Darian Meacham's "The gentle caress of my robot lover, and other ethically difficult phenomena" (which was the first abstract to be accepted for this session).

"Kalevi Kull and the rewilding of biosemiotics" available online

The introduction chapter to Semiotics in the Wild: Essays in Honour of Kalevi Kull on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday (eds. Timo Maran, Kati Lindström, Riin Magnus and myself, 2012), entitled "Kalevi Kull and the rewilding of biosemiotics: Introduction", is freely available online at the webpage of the publisher, Tartu University Press, along with the book's front matter and Table of contents.

"Beyond sentience" chapter revised

A few days ago Jonathan Beever and I finished revising our jointly written paper "Beyond sentience: Biosemiotics as foundation for animal and environmental ethics" (see previous posts), which is to appear in John Hadley and Elisa Aaltola (eds), Animal ethics and Philosophy: Questioning the Orthodoxy (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers), scheduled for publication in December this year. The revision involved shortening the chapter to 7.000 words while at the same time trying to improve argumentation. We thus ended up both adding text and shortening the narrative.