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Friday, 29 January 2016

CRIStin reporting for 2015 - 34 entries

Today I made registrations of academic activities in 2015 in CRIStin, the Current Research Information System In Norway. 34 activities altogether, down 2 from 2014. In total I have made 120 registrations since I started reporting to Cristin in 2012.

I expect 2,80 publication points for 2015. It could have been 1 more, if I had remembered to propose Chinese Semiotic Studies as a publication channel within the deadline November 30th last year (I thought I did).

Here is my profile in CRIStin.

Appointed substitute member of Management Committee of COST-action "GroupHouseNet"

I have this week been appointed as substitute member for Norway in the Management Committee of COST* Action CA 15134, "Synergy for preventing damaging behaviour in group housed pigs and chickens (GroupHouseNet). The appointment was made by Research Council of Norway´s COST-action coordinator.

* European Cooperation in Science and Technology

Here is the COST Action´s homepage. So far 19 countries has joined the Action, after accepting the Memorandum of Understanding. I am listed as a substitute member of the Management Committee here, along with all the others.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

New, updated CV publicly available (via Scribd)

I have recently, in several rounds, updated my CV (now 18 pp). The version as of yesterday has now been uploaded to Scribd in PDF format - see here. This is the first public update of my CV since 2013.

Job applications - UiS

Yesterday I submitted job applications for four positions at the University of Stavanger:
* Head of Department of Social Studies
* Head of Department of Health Studies
* Head of Department of Media, Culture and Social Sciences
* Dean of Faculty of Social Studies

I have a history of employment at the first two departments, and have had students from the third (which furthermore fits my research profile quite well).

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Meeting on revised research application; registration for PRE-FRIPRO

Today I met with an advisor in the research department of UiS to discuss a revision of my "Umwelt theory for our time" research application. I will apply for a second - and last (I am turning 40) time this Spring within the scheme "Unge forskertalenter" (Young research talents) at Research Council of Norway. Also, I have registered for the university´s PRE-FRIPRO program this year too - but will only take part in the last workshop, April 14th, where I will present my revised application for a (critical) panel.

New office

Today I have moved from one office (KA 215) to another (KA-U-112) in Kjell Arholms hus, at University of Stavanger´s Ullandhaug campus. My new office is located in a so-called "office landscape" (no roof, thin "walls" ... so must be quite silent). Meeting rooms are available nearby, though.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Second supervisor seminar held

Today I attended, and helped organize, a supervisor seminar at University of Stavanger´s Department of social studies, along with colleague Kjersti Ørvig. 17 people attended the 2 hour seminar, which was focused on supervision of bachelor theses. A similar seminar was held last year.

Norwegian article on world population in 3rd millennium now available online

My article (in Norwegian) "Statistikerens guide til utopia II: En demografisk analyse av øko-visjoner om befolkningsnedgang i det tredje årtusen" is now available online in full-text, in University of Stavanger´s Open Research Archive. See PDF here.

Six more students advised; plus ten by email

Today I have given feedback on bachelor thesis project drafts to six more bachelor students in child welfare at University of Stavanger´s Department of social studies. I have also given feedback on ten project drafts by email. This brings the total up to 21.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Five students advised

Today I have given feedback/counseling to five students currently working on their bachelor thesis in child welfare, in my UiS office, based on project drafts.

"Proto-language in wolves" accepted for presentation in Urbino

Today I was notified that the paper "Proto-language in wolves", which presents joint work with Paul Thibault, with the assistance of Laura Kiiroja, has been accepted for presentation at the Third International Conference in Code Biology (Urbino, Italy 24-28 May, 2016). 

Friday, 22 January 2016

Cover image and back cover prepared for "Thinking about animals" book

The last couple of days I have taken part in proof-reading back cover copy and choosing cover template and image for the forthcoming book Thinking about animals in the age of the Anthropocene, for which I am one of three editors, along with Kristin Armstrong Oma and Silver Rattasepp. We ended up with a bee theme for the cover image.

Plagiarism case

I have been involved as one of two examiners in a case involving suspected plagiarism (or rather cooperation) by two students in an Examen Philosophicum exam. The case is now settled.

Large predator chapter approved

My chapter "The semiotics of predation and the Umwelten of large predators" has been approved and sent to language editing.

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Thursday, 21 January 2016

Radio interview on animals in the Anthropocene aired late November

On November 28-29th an interview with me, and with Einar Strømnes (Museum of natural history, University of Oslo) aired on NRK P2, in the program Verdibørsen 28-29/11. The topic was animals in the Anthropocene. Podcast is available. 

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Reykjavik paper on Norwegian wolf field work accepted

Today I´ve been informed that our panel “Phenomenological Approaches to the Anthropological Difference”, convened by Cristian Ciocan, has been accepted. This implies that my paper "Synchronicity in human perception of animals" has been accepted for presentation at the 14th annual conference of the Nordic Society for Phenomenology: “Phenomenology and Beyond” (Reykjavik, Iceland 21‐23 April, 2016).

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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Abstract for NoSP 2016: "Synchronicity in human perception of animals"

In the end of November, I composed the abstract below, for Phenomenology and beyond: 14th annual conference of the Nordic Society for Phenomenology, to be held at University of Iceland, Reykjavík,  21–23 April 2015.


Synchronicity in human perception of animals
By Morten Tønnessen, Associate professor of philosophy, University of Stavanger, Norway

Part of the panel "Phenomenological Approaches to the Anthropological Difference”, convened by Cristian Ciocan

This paper presents findings from 13 video-recorded interviews conducted Spring 2015 in Norway focused on the respondents´ perception of wolves and related animals which are often perceived to be in conflict with wolves. The interviews were conducted in the rural municipalities Kautokeino (Finnmark county) and Rendalen (Hedmark county), and the urban municipalities Stavanger (Rogaland county) and Kristiansand (Vest-Agder county). In the interviews, the respondents were shown images, video-clips and audio featuring wolves, elk, dogs, sheep, reindeer and people, and prompted to explain what they saw and/or heard. In the course of these verbal explanations, accompanied by telling body language, it becomes clear how the respondents sought to interpret the media material and e.g. determine the species of featured animals, or understand the situation on display.

I will demonstrate different ways in which human perception of animals is synchronized, and show examples involving simultaneous display of multiple screens and video-recordings. A study of synchronicity in human perception of animals can reveal patterns and tendencies in such perception, and inform us about the respondents´ identity, attitudes and self-understanding. By making use of parameters including geography, demography (gender, age etc.), occupation and hobbies, this study sheds light on the ways in which human self-understanding is always based in part on our ideas about, and perception of, animals.

Acknowledgements: 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). Paul Thibault took part in designing and conducting the interviews; Laura Kiiroja contributed by cataloguing the video-recorded interviews.

Piece on ethics for humanities article written

On November 30th, I wrote my ca. 1.000 words contribution to a joint "humanities manifesto" article to be sent to Biosemiotics, work-titled "Why Biosemiotics Needs the Humanities". My contribution is on normatively and ethics. The article is coordinated by Wendy Wheeler.

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UiS news story on election results

Here is a University of Stavanger news story from November 30th about the election results, "Nye interne styremedlemmer ved UiS". As reported in the post below, 11 votes got me a 2nd deputy position only representing temporarily employed education and research staff. The news story provides info on who were elected in each category of employment, and how many votes each candidate got.

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Monday, 18 January 2016

Opinion piece reprinted by Radikal Portal

My opinion piece "Jakten på mor og barn: om dyrenes moralske status" was published by Radikal Portal on December 3rd. This was a re-printing of my opinion piece in Salongen the day before, with permission.

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Opinion piece on mother-child relations in animals published in Salongen

My opinion piece "Jakten på mor og barn" [The hunt for/Hunting mother and child] was published in Salongen December 2nd, upon invitation, in relation to the 4th Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference.

Salongen is a webpage, or online journal, for philosophy and the history of ideas.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Book review of The Sixth Extinction written

Today I wrote a book review for the Norwegian journal Prosa, entitled "Miljøvern for dummies". This is a review of a Norwegian translation of Elizabeth Kolbert´s The Sixth Extinction - An unnatural history.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Abstract "Proto-language in wolves" submitted to Code Biology 3 (Urbino)

I have today submitted the abstract "Proto-language in wolves" (see previous posts), which presents joint work with Paul Thibault, with the assistance of Laura Kiiroja, for the Third International Conference in Code Biology (Urbino 24-28 May, 2016). 

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Preliminary program for The Wolf Symposium distributed; two scheduled events March 8th

Today a preliminary program for The Wolf Symposium 2016, to be held in Vålådalen, Sweden, has been distributed by email. Exact times for program posts are not included, but have been communicated to those on the program.

My talk "Marked for life – Ethical questions concerning management of and research on wolves" (to be held in Norwegian, with Powerpoint in English) is scheduled for the afternoon of March 8th, probably at 14.15-15.00.

The panel discussion on ethics in research and management is preliminarily scheduled for March 8th at 16.15-17.00 or so. In addition to me and Katarina Cvek, Maria Hörnell Willebrand and the chair Sverre Sjölander (see previous post linked to below), it is now communicated that it will feature Olof Liberg (representing SKANDULV and Grimsö Wildlife Research Station).

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Chapter "The semiotics of predation and the Umwelten of large predators" revised

Today I finished revising my forthcoming book chapter «The semiotics of predation and the Umwelten of large predators», based on editorial feedback. At 14-15.000 words, this will be one of the longest pieces I´ve published.

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Large predators chapter completed

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

ResearchGate stats

My ResearchGate profile currently has some 114 followers. It features 27 publications with 28 citations, and has altogether 702 reads. I am listed with 5.57 Impact Points, and my current RG score is 11.71.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

"Wolf land" article referred to in NINA overview report

My 2010 article "Wolf land" is referred to in a recent report from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) which gives an overview of status for knowledge on management of large predators in Norway. The reference is made in attachment 1, which lists "Scientific publications".

Linnell, John D.C. & Torkild Tveraa (eds) 2015. Kunnskapsstatus og kunnskapsbehov for forvaltning av rovvilt i Norge. NINA report no. 1195. Trondheim: NINA.
Tønnessen, Morten 2010. Wolf Land. Biosemiotics 3.3: 289–297 (online version, published April 23, 2010: DOI: 10.1007/s12304-010-9077-x).

Chapter "Umwelt and language" available in Google Books

My recently published book chapter "Umwelt and language" is available in Google Books (full text, except for 5 pages or so). 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Not appointed deputy member of Norway´s Council for animal ethics

Today the new members, for the period 2015-2018, of the government-appointed Norway´s Council for Animal Ethics (Rådet for dyreetikk) was announced. I was a candidate for deputy representative for animal rights organizations, but was not appointed.

Theme day for child welfare faculty attended

Today I have attended a theme day / day seminar at University of Stavanger´s Department of social studies, for faculty working with the child welfare education. The seminar took place at Ølbergstranden hotell og konferansesenter in Sola.

Friday, 8 January 2016 dissemination article: "Researchers: facts alone are not enough in the debate about wolves"

The dissemination article "Researchers: facts alone are not enough in the debate about wolves" by Benedicte Pentz was published on the English version webpage of University of Stavanger on December 7th. This is another version of the dissemination article published in English on and in Norwegian on and

Dissemination article on perceptions of wolves published on

On December 8th, the dissemination story "People's experience of wildlife predators must be highlighted in the debate about them" by Benedicte Pentz was published by, a science, research and technology news website. As of today the article, which summarises field work on human perceptions of wolves and related animals, has 273 likes on Facebook. 

This is the English version of a dissemination article which has previously appeared in Norwegian.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Zoosemiotics methodology chapter revised

Ive just revised a central part of my contribution to the chapter "Methodology of zoosemiotics: concepts, categorizations, models", written with with Timo Maran, Kadri Tüür, Riin Magnus, Silver Rattasepp and Nelly Mäekivi and forthcoming in Animal Umwelts in a changing world – Semiotic studies of human-animal relations. Specifically, I have rearranged the section "Elaborating umwelt theory", which sums up my work on developing Jakob von Uexküll´s Umwelt theory further. I´ve also made some minor edits in the chapter generally.

Updated presenter page at The wolf symposium 2016

The page presenting me as a presenter (sic) at Vargsymposiet [The wolf symposium] 2016 has been updated with abstract for my talk and a few more links.

Discussion on ethics in research and management scheduled for The wolf symposium (Sweden, March 2016)

As a follow-up to my talk "Merket for livet – Etiske spørsmål knyttet til forvaltning av og forskning på ulv" [Marked for life – Ethical questions concerning management of and research on wolves] at Vargsymposiet [The wolf symposium] 2016 in Vålådalen, Sweden, a discussion session has been scheduled. The discussion session is entitled "Etik i forskning och forvaltning" [Ethics in research and management], and will feature me, Katarina Cvek (Djurförsöksetiska nämnden [Committee for ethics of animal experiments]), Maria Hörnell Willebrand (Naturvårdsverket [Swedish Environmental Protection Agency]) and a wildlife researcher.

Academia edu stats

My profile page at is currently among the top 1% by 30 day visits, with a lifetime total of 7.543 visits. I have 391 followers. My profile page currently lists 43 papers and 73 talks.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Semiotics textbooks review available on

The extensive review "A hundred introductions to semiotics, for a million students: Survey of semiotics textbooks and primers in the world", of which I am one of several co-authors, is available on in fulltext (via the profile of Kalevi Kull). 

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Teaching in academic writing

Today I have taught for an hour in a 2-hour academic writing-seminar for bachelor thesis students in child welfare and social work, along with Kersti Ørvig. Some 100 students were present.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Now i10 index of 3 in Google Scholar, 99 citations

In Google Scholar (see my profile), I am now listed with 99 citations, an i10 index of 3 and a h-index of 5. This implies that 3 of my publications have been cited at least 10 times, and that 5 (actually, 7) of my articles have been cited 5 times each.

The count presented by Google Scholar is not entirely accurate, since it on one hand includes several self-citations, and on another does not include several citations I have found through other channels.

The figure below shows the number of citations by year in Google Scholar, with 2015 representing a peak so far with 36 citations.

The third article to reach 10 citations, after "Umwelt ethics" (2003, now 20) and "Umwelt transitions: Uexküll and environmental change" (2009, now 16), was "Steps to a semiotics of being" (2010).

Large predators chapter completed

In the night between December 25th and 26th I completed the chapter «The semiotics of predation and the Umwelten of large predators" (previously titled "The Semiotics of Wild Carnivore Management"), for the collective monograph Animal Umwelts in a Changing World: Semiotic Studies of human-animal relations (forthcoming, Tartu University Press).

Monday, 4 January 2016

Visitor statistics for Utopian Realism

This blog, Utopian Realism, had 4.685 pageloads in 2015. This is down 34% from 2014 (and lower than in 2012 and 2013). There were 3.004 unique visitors (down 36%), of which 407 were returning visitors (up 19%).

Employment contract with UiS Business School expired

My employment contract with UiS Business School ended December 31st 2015.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Readings 2014

This last year, in 2014, I read some 5.690 pages of academic literature (with author known), according to my notes (not much at all). This is significantly below the 7,096 pages I read in 2013, and what I have read the last few preceding years.

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2848 work hours logged in 2015

According to my regular overview, I had 2.848 work hours in 2015. This is about the same level as in 2014, and results in an average work week of 54,6 hours throughout the year.

According to my calculations, academic work amounted to 75,0 % of my work in 2015, book projects and writing for 8,5 % and other work for 16,5 %.

439 blog posts in 2015

2015 saw 439 blog posts in Utopian Realism. This is second-highest in the history of the blog (established 2008), slightly below the record level in 2014.

Despite the high frequency of posting, I am only keeping track, more or less, with current activities, and not really catching up with my old backlog.