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Kleinhans, Maarten G.

"NIAS made me expand my universe, in the full colour of interdisciplinarity"

Maarten Kleinhans is a natural (earth) scientist in daily life (as Professor of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University) and spent 7 months in 2019/20 at NIAS reviving an old love: the philosophy of science. Interactions with journalists, writers and artists encouraged him to explore non-scientific ways of communicating about sand, soil and the climate crisis.

Clichés

“Since earth science has somehow managed to evade most philosophers, there is very little to start from and very few scholars and scientists to interact with. I hope and believe that the fellowship is a turning point in my career in that I will do much more philosophy of science with this experience as the launching platform. Earth science needs it, whether they know it and like it or not.

It is hard to exaggerate the contribution of NIAS to my research, both in support and in the academic community. It is hard to avoid clichés too. So I wrote a poem about it. NIAS made me expand my universe, not only in the full colour of interdisciplinarity, but also with the warmth of real support to keep out the usual distractions of academic life and find the time to read, think, debate and write.”

Creative Writing for Outreach

“In close communication with the journalists, writers and artists in residence I opened up my creative writing (from secrecy). I intend to develop this, not only because I want to, but also for outreach. I believe (and know from psychological research) that prose and poetry are often much better remembered by people than factual texts. So we need prose and poetry to communicate the interesting and useful results of earth sciences and the things we need to know to face to climate crisis without ostrich tactics. A first experiment is published.”