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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Debate text on transparency published on webpage of UiS

I have taken part in a debate online, on the webpage of University of Stavanger, on the topic "Vald eller tilsett rektor?" [Elected or employed rector?], which was started by permanent member of the board of UiS Bjørn Kvalsvik Nicolaysen, by writing a text entitled "Eksempel på manglende åpenhet" [Example of lacking transparency] (text no. 11) which was published Friday February 21st.

The full text of this brief debate text has also been posted in my Norwegian language blog Utopisk Realisme.

Norwegian parliament and MUST on the art exhibition Who owns history?; end date

The human-animal relations art exhibition "Utenfor sirkelen" [Outside the circle] by Jørund Aase Falkenberg, where I contribute with a text, is part of the larger exhibition "Hvem eier historien? Kunst, makt og demokrati" [Who owns history? Art, power and democracy] involving altogether 8 artists. This exhibition opens March 6th and will be on display until June 15th. The eight individual exhibitions included will be on display at various locations, namely MUST - Museum Stavanger and further Stavanger maritime museum, Breidablikk and Stavanger kunstmuseum. See the exhibition's modest page at MUST - Museum Stavanger, and the webpage of the Norwegian parliament (the exhibition is part of the official program for the 200 year anniversary of Norway's constitution).

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Friday, 21 February 2014

Preliminary reporting: 4th most-publishing scholar at Department of health studies

A preliminary overview of reported publications shows that I might be the 4th most-publishing scholar in terms of publication points (the Norwegian "tellekantsystem") at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies in 2013, with ca. 2,5 points (5 publications qualifying for publication points).

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Webpage for Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference updated

The webpage of the Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference (in Norwegian) - cf. previous posts on the conference series - has been updated. The theme for the 2014 conference, which will be the third conference in the annual series, is "Fiskelykke" ["luck in fishing"/"fish happiness"].

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Launch of Festschrift to Guri Larsen, Kjersti Ericsson and Cecilie Høigård February 26th

The Festschrift  Motmæle - en antologi til Kjersti Ericsson, Cecilie Høigård og Guri Larsen [/Retorting/ - an anthology to Kjersti Ericsson, Cecilie Høigård and Guri Larsen], who all turn 70 right about now, will be launched at Litteraturhuset in Oslo Wednesday February 26th. For the programme, see here - and for an invitation document (PDF), see here.

I will be attending.

Aarhus University research study conducted at UiS

This week I have met again with Njord Solberg, and for the first time with his collaborator Karl Møller, both Aarhus University, in connection with their linguistic/cognitive study conducted at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies February 15-20. Some 40 participants have taken part in their study, which will be detailed in a forthcoming journal article.

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18 hours of teaching

This week, Monday to Wednesday, I have been teaching for 6 hours per day, 18 hours in total, in the introductory philosophy course Examen Philosophicum as part of the web-based bachelor in nursing at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies. 6-15 people were present. This second gathering in that course concludes my teaching this semester.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Art exhibition "Outside the circle" to open March 6th

The art exhibition "Utenfor sirkelen" [Outside the circle] by Jørund Aase Falkenberg will, along with associated exhibitions, open on Thursday March 6th, at MUST - Museum Stavanger's Department of Natural History. The exhibition will be on display for some three months.

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Text to art exhibition "Outside the circle" revised and finalized

Monday this week I revised and finalized my text contribution to Jørund Aase Falkenberg's upcoming art exhibition "Utenfor sirkelen" [Outside the circle]. The final text is 6 pp including references.

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Writing of first field work Work Paper commenced

Today I have started writing "Work Paper 1 concerning field work in the case study Representations (Both Problematic and Romanticizing) of Large Mammals, Especially Wolves partaking in the research project Animals In Changing Environments: Cultural Mediation and Semiotic Analysis”. This Work Paper, the first in a series of three, will be written by Paul Thibault and me. When completed each Work Paper will be made available on the Norwegian webpages of the research project.

Research visit to Tangen zoo scheduled

I have agreed with Runar Næss, director of Tangen zoo (formerly Amadeus zoo), and fellow researcher/biosemiotician Laura Kiiroja, that I will be visiting Tangen zoo March 9-11. The zoo holds socialized foxes, among other animals. The research visit will be conducted within the research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis", more specifically within the case study "Agencies and Conflicts of Interest in Zoological Gardens as an Environment for Mediated Communication".

Animals in changing environments webpages updated

Today I have updated the Norwegian webpages of the Norwegian-Estonian research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis" - both in Norwegian and English language version. Changes include addition of the project's Dissemination plan and expansion of Publications. Plus, the image below (which was taken during my field work in 2010) has been added.

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Monday, 10 February 2014

4 hours of teaching August 19th 2013 - introduction to philosophy course

On August 19th last autumn I taught for 4 hours in Examen Philosophicum at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies. This was the first day of teaching that semester. The topics for the 4 hours of lectures were what philosophy is, what science is, what it means to act like a nurse (ethics), and what it means to think like a nurse (philosophy of science).

4 hours of teacher-assisted group work September 2nd 2013

On September 2nd last autumn I taught for 4 hours in Examen Philosophicum at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies. All 4 hours were teacher-assisted group work.

Master meeting attended September 2013

On September 24th last autumn I took part in the regular master meeting at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies.

5 hours of teaching in ethics at laster level September 25th 2013

On September 25th last autumn I taught for 5 hours in the master course "Vitenskapsfilosofi og etikk" [Philosophy of science and ethics] at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies. All 5 hours were devoted to student presentations of chapters in Polifroni & Welch (eds), Perspectives on Philosophy of Science in Nursing: An historical and Contemporary Anthology, so my role was mainly one of giving feedback and supplementing. But I also had to step in for two student (group)s.

4 hours of teching in ethics September 23rd 2013

On September 23rd last autumn I taught for 4 hours in Examen Philosophicum at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies. The topic was ethical theory including research ethics and metaethics. 

4 hours of teaching in ethics October 7th 2013

On October 7th last autumn I taught for 4 hours in Examen Philosophicum at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies. The topic was deontology and consequentialism. 

Program and abstract for December 13th 2013 research seminar on animals in changing environments

Here's the full program for the First Norwegian Research Seminar – Animals in Changing Environments: Cultural mediation and Semiotic Analysis, which was held at University of Stavanger on December 13th 2013. The content includes two abstracts in addition to my own, "The construction of the Big Bad Wolf in contemporary Scandinavia":
Beyond dualist explanations: the deep history of domestic animals in human societies 
By Kristin Armstrong Oma, University of Stavanger 
Cultural exposure to a new mammalian species, golden jackal (Canis aureus). Preliminary results 
By Timo Maran, University of Tartu

5 exam papers graded following continuation exam

Today I graded 5 papers submitted to the continuation exam (second chance) in the course in introductory philosophy, Examen Philosophicum, which is part of the bachelor in nursing at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies.

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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Text to art exhibition "Outside the circle" finished

Last Monday I finished an academic text (5 pp) commissioned by the artist Jørund Aase Falnenberg for his upcoming art exhibition "Utenfor sirkelen" [Outside the circle]. The art exhibition, which is one of many marking the 200 year anniversary of Norway's constitution, will be shown at MUST - Museum Stavanger, more specifically Department of Natural History, starting early March. Falkenberg's art exhibition has an animal theme.

This is the third time I am contributing one way or another to an art exhibition.

PPT of Oslo guest lecture on the human empire

At the end of October last year I guest-lectured in a eco-criminology seminar at University of Oslo. The lecture, Menneskeveldet - menneskets globale økologiske hierarki [The human empire - man's glocal ecological hierarchi] was shortly thereafter made available in form of PPT at the webpage of UiO.

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New opening for admission to Tartu master program in semiotics

I have been asked to distribute information concerning the international master program in semiotics at University of Tartu in Estonia.
13 students will be admitted to the Master's programme in the study year 2014/2015 and for all the admitted students tuition-waiver scholarships are available. Students receiving this scholarship do not have to pay the tuition fee, if they complete a full-time study load (30 ECTS per semester). The deadline for application is the 16th of April, 2014.
Knowing several former master students and having seen their work and development, I can warmly recommend this master program for those with a broad interest in semiotics.

For more information, see

Friday, 7 February 2014

Norwegian Animal Welfare Day postponed

The Norwegian Animal Welfare day - "Dyreverndagen" in Norwegian - which is to be arranged in Oslo by a working group under Minding Animals Norway, will not be held April 26th 2014 at Ingensteds, as originally planned, but at some later point, likely early 2015. While the initiator Simen Mørstad Johansen continues in the working group as Program officer, Hilde Valbjørn Hagelin is taking over the leadership of the working group.

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Dissemination plan for research project finalized

Since December, or more specifically mostly a couple of weeks ago, I have taken part in composing/revising a Dissemination Plan for the Norwegian-Estonian research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis" (EEA Norway Grants EMP151). The 1 p. plan will soon be made available online.

The Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference scheduled for August 20th; title

The Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference 2014, which will take place in Trondheim, has been scheduled for Wednesday August 20th of 2014. This year the theme will be "Fiskelykke" [ambiguous term which could mean "luck in fishing", but in our context meaning first and foremost "fish happiness"].

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Thursday, 6 February 2014

Publication date for The semiotics of animal representations

The edited collection The semiotics of animal representations, which is to be published by Rodopi (Amsterdam/New York) in the series Nature, Culture and Literature, now has an approximate publication date. The book, which is edited by Kadri Tüür and myself, will be published mid-May, if not earlier.

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Three more ETIS entries for 2013: Two contributions to abstract books, one linguistic report

As part of my reporting of 2013 activities related to the research project Dynamical Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations, I have added two contributions to abstract books and a report to my profile in the Estonian Research Information System, ETIS.

These are the abstracts:
Beever, Jonathan; Tönnessen, Morten (2013). Uexküll in Translation: “Darwin and the English Morality". Gatherings in biosemiotics 13. Organised by International Society for Biosemiotic Studies (ISBS) and University of Pisa, Castiglioncello, Italy, June 5-8 2013. , 2013, p. 105.

Tønnessen, Morten (2013). The ontogeny of the embryonic, fetal and infant human Umwelt. NASSVIII: Sign evolution on multiple time scales. Aarhus University May 29-31 2013. Organised by Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies and Aarhus University. Aarhus, Denmark:, 2013, p. 43.
And this is the report:
Tønnessen, Morten (2013). Analyse av partiprogrammer for 2013-2017. Utført for Dyreetikkonferansen 2013 [Analysis of politial party programs for 2013-2017. Conducted for the Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference 2013]. 21 pp. Available online.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Another 200 student questions answered

At the end of the autumn semester 2012 I reported that I had been answering roughly 200 questions from students, or on average about one per student in the course Examen Philosophicum as part of the bachelor in nursing at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies. Something similar was the case in the autumn semester of 2013. Most questions have been dealth with by email and in the virtual learning environment "It's learning".

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Czech-Norwegian research application composed and submitted

The last couple of months I have been working with Anton Markoš, Head of department at Department of philosophy and history of science at Charles University, Prague, on an application within the Czech-Norwegian research programme. The deadline was today - a 44 pp application with numerous annexes was uploaded some days back.

The title of our prospective project is "Living beings as sign systems in evolution and development". It involves the group lead by Anton at Charles university (Project Promoter), a group of researchers at Palacký University, Olomouc (Czech Project Partner) lead by Dan Faltýnek, and a group at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies, with me as prospective Project Leader (Norwegian Project Partner). 

The prospective project involves 5 Work packages, one lead by each of the mentioned Project Leaders (with Anton as Principal Investigator for the project as a whole), plus one lead by Karel Kleisner and a further one lead by Paul Thibault. My work package would be named "Umwelt theory for our time".

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Abstract for cognitive semiotics conference: "Will the agents of nature please rise: What is agency?"

Some days ago I composed and submitted the abstract below to the organizers of the First International Association for Cognitive Semiotics (IACS) Conference (to be held in Lund, Sweden, September 25-27, 2014).

Will the agents of nature please rise: What is agency?
Morten Tønnessen
Associate professor at Department of health studies, University of Stavanger
What is agency? And who (sic) qualify as agents? In this talk I will present findings from a survey conducted in the biosemiotic community. The survey in question is the first of a series of surveys to be conducted in relation to the Biosemiotic Glossary Project, which is carried out by the journal Biosemiotics. Each survey is done in preparation of a review article which investigates one or a few terms – cf. Tønnessen, forthcoming. 
The questionnaire for the first review article was distributed November 16th 2013, with December 15th as deadline for replies (in practice late responses were accepted). It was sent as email attachment to the members of the editorial board and advisory board of Biosemiotics, the board members of the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies (ISBS) and of the International Society of Code Biology (ISCB), and via the biosemiotics email list ( The questionnaire was furthermore made available online (on, and the same message as had been sent by email was posted in the Biosemiosis blog ( 18 scholars returned questionnaires that were fully or partially filled-in, most of whom have given their permission to be cited in the review article. 
As part of the analysis of survey material, I will give an overview of various differing definitions of agency, and in conclusion I will attempt to arrive at a synthesis of existing definitions. In the survey, respondents were asked to state whether each of 5 citations involving the term ‘agent’ and 4 citations involving the term ‘agency’ were (A) perfectly suitable, (B) generally suitable, (C) somewhat suitable, or (D) not at all suitable. They were furthermore asked to define the terms, and to refer to their own work or that of others in doing so. Respondents were also asked to delimit relevant contexts of use, to mention related terms in English and other languages, and to point out the difference, if any, between the mainstream meaning of ‘agent’ and ‘agency’ and the meaning of these terms in biosemiotic usage.
This work has been carried out thanks to the support of the research project Animals in Changing Environments: Cultural Mediation and Semiotic Analysis (EEA Norway Grants/Norway Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 under project contract no EMP151).
Tønnessen, Morten, forthcoming. The biosemiotic glossary project: Agent, agency. To appear in Biosemiotics 7(3), December 2014.

Web gathering, introductory philosophy

Thursday last week (30th of January) I convened a web gathering (nettsamling) in the course Examen Philosophicum (introductory philosophy) as part of the web-based bachelor in nursing at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies (course code BSNEXP). Close to ten people showed up online. The topic was the exam questions in the course, where a term paper is to be written.