Putting scholarship to work at NSU

Academics and scholars from many countries met on Fårö for the 69th summer session. The notion of crossing boundaries, sharing interdisciplinary interests, gives rise to more questions than answers in terms of what is the right thing to do, when you are an academic on Fårö.

For example, those desperate for a swim were faced with a warning about blooming algae. It can kill. But, of course, how and to what extent is death inevitable? Apparently, the threat is serious and real, but what is reality? More questions were soon raised. Does death actually mean loss of life? What is swimming? At what point does wading become actual swimming? If the blooms do not go in the actual mouth or nose then is being in the water ok? And what, exactly, is meant by in? Hours later folk were wandering around asking if it was ok to swim, now that the warning may have worn off?

Those who had not ordered vegan food found the appearance of it alluring and impossible to resist. In spite of warnings as to portion control and the careful plans of the kitchen, was it still ok to try just a little to see what it tastes like. Surreptitious nibbles and samples are only to be expected when there are rules.

Those arriving exhausted and looking for a shower were advised of a serious water shortage. Please water and then turn off the shower to soap, then rinse. The length of showering was not specified and questions were asked as to relative size of bodies and egalitarian issues concerning water allocation measure according to some scale of best practice. Scientists amongst the assembled group were blamed for these kinds of positivist approaches to the issue. Students in the arts and humanities had already given up on the shower and gone to the bar.

Bill Thompson

Photo by Eduardo Abrantes

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