MESH Autumn Academy for Planetary Wellbeing A Graduate School on Multispecies Conviviality (MESH Well)

General Overview

The MESH Autumn Academy for Planetary Well-being builds on the success of the two prior graduate summer schools organised by the Environmental Humanities initiative within EUniWell (EHWell) at Linnaeus University (2022) and the University of Florence (2023).

Continuing this successful series, a Graduate School will be linked to our annual MESH Symposium on Multispecies Conviviality in October 2024 and the launch of the UoC BRIDGES hub for Planetary Well-being. Our goal is to create a European community of researchers dedicated to enhancing planetary (more-than-human) well-being.

Purpose and Significance

At a time of global biodiversity loss, climate disruption, and environmental degradation, well-being cannot be restricted to humans but must be seen through a planetary perspective, encompassing multispecies conviviality. Grave concerns about multiple ecological ruptures are the source of widespread anxiety and anger, especially among young people. The aim of the MESH Well project and our Autumn Academy is to address these issues by exploring multispecies conviviality in urban more-than-human environments, with a view to enhancing planetary well-being.

The multifaceted nature of current socio-ecological crises requires a multidisciplinary approach, which is central to the research conducted at the hosting institution of MESH at the University of Cologne. Through the MESH Autumn Academy for Planetary Well-being, which includes the MESH Symposium on Multispecies Conviviality, the project team brings together researchers from anthropology, ecology, education, geography, literary and cultural studies, and philosophy. The project also forges links between universities and several national and international research organisations, including the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (Bonn) and the BRIDGES UNESCO-MOST coalition for humanities-led sustainability sciences, as well as with local communities, artists, and activists.

Implementation Method and Timeline

Our participating partners within the EUniWell alliance include the University of Cologne, Linnaeus University, Nantes Université, and the University of Florence.

The main event of the MESH Well project is the Autumn Academy for Planetary Well-being, taking place from 14–19 October 2024. Our EUniWell partners will participate with graduate students and senior researchers who will act as mentors, leading multidisciplinary thematic working groups based on their research expertise. In addition, Cologne-based researchers and visiting international scholars, such as ecologist Sandra Diaz and sociologist Laurel Kearns, will deliver introductory lectures on relevant themes. The academic programme of the Autumn Academy also includes excursions exploring local forms of multispecies conviviality and biodiversity conservation projects, such as the Forschungsmuseum Koenig (part of the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change in Bonn), the Science Barn of the MPI for Plant Breeding in Cologne Vogelsang, and the Cologne Zoo biodiversity project in cooperation with the University of Cologne.

Expected Outcomes

Participating graduate students will:

  1. Produce collaborative posters to be presented publicly on Saturday, 19 October 2024.
  2. Write a short research report (2 pages) on their experience at the Autumn Academy for Planetary Well-being, including ideas on multispecies conviviality. Exemplary reports will be published as a MESH Leaf dedicated to the project’s Autumn Academy and Annual Symposium.

As an expected academic outcome, participating senior researchers will work towards a joint publication.

Contact:

Christoph Lange, Academic Programme Manager and Associate Director of MESH, University of Cologne
Kate Rigby, Alexander von Humboldt Professor for Environmental Humanities and Director of MESH, University of Cologne