Beyond sentience: Towards a voidTaking von Humboldt seriously, on developing a methodology in academic research on the Big Hole, South Africa

Scientific evidence for sentience in non-human life forms is reaching us nearly daily. It leads to taking a more inclusive approach towards social sciences research. These scientific developments also seem to suggest to work towards a planetary approach, going even beyond sentience, in ways that Alexander von Humboldt already described in his work in the late 18th and early 19th century. One can argue that von Humboldt’s heritage can be recognized in James Lovelock’s work on Gaia. In this presentation, Professor Jan-Bart Gewald and Professor Harry Wels want to explore what it would mean methodologically if the social sciences would take this encompassing approach to research seriously. Their ‘laboratory’ for this thought experiment is the Big Hole in Kimberly, South Africa. 

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