Slow Science and Work-Life Balance

A post on Lund University’s sustainable travel blog about my experiences of travelling for conferences with my family.

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Unsustainably clean and smooth

A write up by Izabella Rosengren in ETC. This is based on a recent article Feminist LCAs: Finding leverage points for wellbeing within planetary boundaries. I think her title is catchier 😉

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New research shows that consuming less makes us more happy- some NYE opinions in SydSvenskan

An article in Sydsvenskan where I summarise recent research on reducing consumption and happiness

In this holiday-intensive season, many are deep into boxing day sales, glittery tops for New Year’s parties and exchanging unwanted christmas gifts. But what footprint does our holiday consumption leave behind, environmentally and socially?
By now, most people are well aware of the climate crisis and the importance of stopping over-consumption and radically reducing C02 emissions.
Many have switched habits and traditions to greener alternatives, such as buying Christmas presents second hand and replacing traditional meat orgies with more environmentally friendly vegan holiday food. Changing consumption has a positive impact on the environment, but what are its effects on happiness and well-being?
New research shows that consuming less also makes us happier.

A Canadian research report Buying well-being: Spending behaviour and happiness shows that people who choose experiences and leisure over material things say they are happier and more satisfied with their lives than others. Experiences seem to increase the sense of meaning in life more than material possessions, which can quickly lose their allure.
There are many different ways to approach a life with fewer possessions. Thinning out excesses and choosing simplicity and minimalism are actions that contribute to reducing consumption while increasing the sense of well-being.
Voluntary simplicity can include cutting down on working hours and reducing financial dependency by living in a smaller home, ditching the car and taking public transport or cycling, buying second-hand, growing your own food and much more. Simplicity is not the same as poverty. It is a conscious choice to live with fewer possessions and focus on quality of life.
The European study Does less working time improve life satisfaction was published this year in the journal Health Economics Review. The results show that people who work less and cut back on consumption are less preoccupied with fashion trends and measuring themselves against others. Many people, particularly those in the middle class, feel they have more control over their lives and are less stressed.
The distribution of income across countries is usually expressed in terms of a Gini coefficient, where a low value means less income inequality and a high value means more. Zhang and Churchill’s study Income inequality and subjective well being from China, 2020 shows that people in societies with lower Gini coefficients feel happier than people in societies with greater income inequality.
In 2020, Sweden’s gini coefficient was 26.9, lower than the EU average of 30.8 and much lower than China’s 46.6. Sweden and the other Nordic countries also consistently top the list of countries in the world where people feel happiest.
The ability to choose to cut back to avoid getting stuck in a merry-go-round of jobs, shopping, debt and pressure is a good foundation for a good and happy life.

Our New Year’s resolutions can reduce the environmental footprint we leave behind, while making us feel happier and more satisfied with our lives. In the local community, replacing some of our consumption with spending more time with family and friends, has both environmental and social dividends.
At the societal level, people in countries with high levels of well-being and equality have every opportunity to redesign their lives. New Year’s Eve is an excellent opportunity to reflect on how well we are doing and decide to live so that future generations can enjoy similarly good lives.

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Don’t let flying for work become normal again

A debate article Claire Hoolohan and I wrote for SydSvenskan – article available online.

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Why don’t we care that the ultra-rich are fucking up our climate?

That the ultra-rich are responsible for the lion’s share of carbon emissions is gaining a wider coverage in the media. But why are we so apathetic in demanding them to change and so eager to adjust our own (carbon insignificant) lives?

What I though was an ironic post to carbon-shame the ultra rich.

Oxfam International recently released a comprehensive report into carbon emissions by income group concluding that the richest 1% emit more than double the carbon of the poorest 50%. Thinking this was a surefire way to start a recreational outrage discussion on how to de-rich this problematic carbon emitting group, I posted a link to my Facebook asking if any of my friends had good ideas for tackling climate change. To my surprise the discussion was more around things we could do in our everyday lives: one of my friends commented ‘Eating locally and organically produced food!‘ another commented that the current debate environment was not conducive to reducing carbon emissions, while yet another commented about building atmospheric processors to reverse greenhouse gas emissions. To give the discussion justice one of my friends, Henner, did comment ‘Eat the rich?’ which received a lot of likes, but the overwhelming focus missed the cash-shaming, de-richification discussion I had expected.

In the EU the top 1% of households have carbon footprints over 50 tCO2eq/cap while the bottom 50% has less than 5 tCO2eq/cap. Only 5% of the EU households live within a carbon footprint target of 2.5 tCO2eq/cap needed to mitigate climate change, according to Diana Ivanova and Richard Wood. This indicates that – yes – we should focus on reducing everyone’s carbon footprint, but there are significant environmental gains to be made by reducing the carbon footprints of the ultra-rich. But if we don’t provide any pressure or incentives I’m not sure the ultra-rich are inclined to stop spewing carbon into the atmosphere – I mean they are the ones who can afford to pop off to mars and leave us suckers here to deal with droughts, flooding, hurricanes, fires and goodness knows what else the climate change gods have in store for us.

I wonder how we could change narratives around changing individual behaviour and focus on reducing carbon emissions of the ultra-rich?

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The girl gang that vanished

Since finishing my PhD I have been working a lot: applying for funding, writing papers, organising conferences, teaching, teaching, teaching, keeping an eye out for a contract longer than 6 months… And then two women I look up to suddenly left academia. Two women who glided effortlessly through challenges, generously shared teaching material and always had time for an encouraging word, without warning got ‘real’ jobs. Well maybe there were warnings: long long hours, bosses on sick leave, increasing student loads… Wistfully wondering if it’s worth it, I stumbled on this piece that sums up my feelings perfectly. By Matilda Dahl on Curie (my (a bit aussie) translation).

TjejgÀnget som försvann

The girl gang that vanished

Jag lÀser ett studentpapper, en kvinnlig student har lÀmnat in nÄgot riktigt modigt, begÀvat och briljant. Jag försöker att enbart glÀdjas och mota undan vemodet. Men det kryper sig gÀrna pÄ, just precis dÄ. Det dÀr vemodet. För de Àr ju sÄ mÄnga, de smarta tjejerna i studentgrupperna. Men inte pÄ professorsstolarna, inte högre upp i hierarkin, inte pÄ listorna över dem som leder stora projekt, som fÄr de stora pengarna dÀr Àr de fÄ, kvinnorna.

I’m reading a student paper, a female student has submitted something really brave, talented and brilliant. I try to be only glad and stop the wistfulness. But it creeps in, just then. That wistfulness. Because they are so many, the smart girls – in the student groups. But not in the professor’s halls, not higher up in the hierarchy, not on the lists of those who lead the big projects, who get the big money – there they are few and far between, the women.

Alltför mÄnga av mina begÄvade kvinnliga kolleger, finns inte lÀngre kvar i akademin. Det talas om glastak, men jag vet inte om de slog i nÄgot tak. DÀremot öppnade de dörren och gick helt sjÀlvmant ut, för de ville inte vara kvar. Ett kompetenstapp utan dess like.

Too many of my talented female colleagues are no longer in academia. They talk about glass ceilings, but I don’t know if my colleagues hit any ceilings. Rather, they opened the door and went out of their own accord, because they did not want to stay. A competence drain like no other.

Vi var liksom ett helt gÀng tjejer
som doktorerade ungefÀr samtidigt
som lÀrde kÀnna varandra

We were like a whole gang of girls
  who did our PhDs around the same time
  who got to know each other

Alla hade vi fÄtt frÄgan:
Skulle inte du som Àr sÄ duktig vilja doktorera?
Uppmuntrade sökte vi och blev antagna
SÄ spÀnnande!

We had all been asked the question:
You are so smart, wouldn’t you like to do a PhD?
Encouraged, we applied and were accepted
So exciting!

Åkte pĂ„ konferenser
Jobbade i projekt
Ibland nÀra ibland lÄngtifrÄn
NĂ„gra delade kontor
NÄgra delade lÀgenhet
NÄgra började rida ihop

  Went to conferences
  Worked on projects
  Sometimes near sometimes far away
  Some shared offices
  Some shared apartments
  Some started riding together

Åt middagar
Tog ett glas öl

Pratade i timtal
Om vÄra handledare
Om seminarier
Om vÄra avhandlingar
Om kÀrlek

Ate dinners
  Sipped coffee
Drank beer

Talked for hours
  About our supervisors
  About seminars
  About our theses
  About love

Ett gÀng tjejer i akademin
Som skrev och skrev och skrev
1000 ord per dag
Det var vÄrt motto
Var duktiga flickor
Grymt duktiga flickor faktiskt
NÄgra jobbade nÀstan jÀmt
Andra vÀldigt mycket
Ingen var lat eller ovillig eller obegÄvad
TvÀrtom faktiskt
Vi tog det hela pÄ stort allvar
Hade höga ambitioner
Vi skrev klart vÄra avhandlingar
De blev bra

A gang of girls in academia
  Who wrote and wrote and wrote
  1000 words per day
  That was our motto
  Be good girls
  Bloody good girls actually
  Some worked almost always
  Others a lot
No one was lazy or reluctant or dumb
  Rather the opposite
  We took it all very seriously
  Had high ambitions
  We finished our dissertations
  They were good

NĂ„gra blev klara i rekordfart
fÄr att komma ifrÄn
för att lÀmna det akademiska
sÄ fort det bara gick
Andra hade det inte lika dÄligt
tog lite lÀngre tid pÄ sig
att skriva klart

Some finished in record time
  to get away
  to leave academia
  just as soon as possible
  Others did not have it as rough
  and took a little longer
  to finish writing

Fick stipendium, tjÀnst,
Jobbade dagar, kvÀllar, helger
Ingick i olika sammanhang
För det var ju sÄ roligt

Got stipendiums, jobs,
  Worked days, evenings, weekends
Participated in various groups
  Because it was so much fun

NÄgra av dem som lÀmnade
kom sen tillbaka
Deras ansökningar beviljades medel
en fot i akademin en utanför

Some of them left
  then came back
Their applications granted funding
one foot in the academy one outside

FrÄgan som alltid Äterkom:
Hos oss alla
Är det vĂ„rt det
att vara kvar?

The question that always returned:
  To all of us
  Is it worth it
  to stay?

FrÄgan som aldrig stÀlldes
Till nÄgon
Vad kan vi göra
för att Du
ska vilja vara kvar?

The question that was never asked
  Of any of us
  What can we do
  to make you
  want to stay?

Nu Àr det snart ingen
i gÀnget kvar

Soon there won’t be anyone left
in the gang

För nÀstan alla
i mitt gamla tjejgÀng
har nu lÀmnat

For nearly everyone
  in my old girl gang
has now left

Trots att de frÄn början ville
Trots att de gillade och var bra pÄ
Att forska, skriva, undervisa, fÄ pengar
Allt det dÀr man ska vara bra pÄ
SÄ var det inte vÀrt det
Att vara kvar

Despite initially wanting it
  Despite liking it and being good at
Researching, writing, teaching, getting funding
  All the things you should be good at
  Yet it was not worth it
  To stay

Jag saknar Er

I miss you

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Laconia – living alone consumption impact – Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Actions

I’m really excited to find out I have been granted a two year Marie Curie postdoc project based at Aalborg University Copenhagen with Professor Kirsten Gram-Hanssen. Now all I have to do it NOT press the terminate project button.

Do not press this button

Project abstract

Human population has wide ranging and often negative consequences for the natural environment. Population stability and decreasing fertility have thus been heralded as promising for sustainability. However, household size has been decreasing steadily in both developed and developing countries, at an accelerating pace, since the 1980s. The European Union (EU) leads this trend, with nearly a third of total households consisting of single residents. As a result of more people living alone with associated higher consumption, slowing population growth has resulted in neither fewer residences nor decelerating human impact on the environment. This MC-IF aims to investigate the trend toward living alone and create new knowledge about environmental impacts of different household configurations, drivers for different occupancy trends and alternative sustainable housing configurations. The research will be carried out in three phases, firstly by using existing population, housing and consumption databases; secondly be interviewing both high and low impact single resident households and finally by studying low impact household configurations in-depth. This will provide new knowledge on: how different household configurations impact sustainability; why people choose to live in different various configurations; and drivers and barriers for emerging sustainable alternatives. This knowledge will be valuable for policy makers planning sustainable urban environments. During period of training the ER will: Acquire specialised knowledge on sociology of consumption; deepen her mixed methods analysis; improve her multicultural and team communications skills; have policy impact; and publish scientific articles in international journals. 

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Music festivals can show the way to sustainability – debate article in Dagens Nyheter

An article written together with Alison Browne and Russell Hitchings based on our Geoforum paper: ñ€˜Already existingñ€ℱ sustainability experiments: Lessons on water demand, cleanliness practices and climate adaptation from the UK camping music festival. Click on the link to go to our academic paper (open access). Click here to go to our popular science summary (Swedish, pay wall).

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En halstvÀtthistoria av Annika RullgÄrd

Jag började i skolan 1952. PÄ den tiden fanns det skolradio dÀr man tog upp olika saker som man ansÄg viktiga för barnen. Vid varje terminsstart fick barnen ett skolradiohÀfte dÀr man kunde se nÀr olika program skulle sÀndas och för vilken klass de var avsedda. Jag lÀrde mig att lÀsa tidigt och lÀste i förvÀg i skolradiohÀftena om vilka program som skulle komma under terminen. NÀr jag gick i andra klass sÄg jag att det skulle det komma ett program om vikten av att hÄlla sig ren. Det fanns nÄgra frÄgor som skulle stÀllas till barnen och dÀribland en frÄga om man hade tvÀttat halsen pÄ morgonen innan man gick till skolan. Jag memorerade noga datumet för detta skolradioprogram och nÀr den dagen var inne blötte jag hÀnderna i samband med tandborstningen och drog de vÄta hÀnderna runt halsen. Jag hade alltsÄ redan klÀderna pÄ men jag ville kunna svara ja pÄ frÄgan om halstvÀtten fast den blev ju inte sÄ noggrann. Mycket riktigt, nÀr frÄgan stÀlldes av lÀraren efter att vi lyssnat pÄ radion var det bara jag som svarade ja.

Annika RullgÄrd sent me some stories she remembers from her childhood. One of them tells an episode from Annikañ€ℱs second year in school, 1953. In those years the Swedish Radio broadcast special programs about topics of importance for pupils. All the pupils were given the broadcasting schedule. Annika browsed ahead through the schedule and noticed an upcoming program about how to keep oneself clean in the days when a bathroom was not a common convenience. With each program there were a number of questions to be answered. One of the questions asked whether the pupils had washed their necks before going to school. Annika carefully memorized the date of this program, and on that day after brushing her teeth, she wet her hands and rubbed them quickly around her neck. The neck had been washed, at least somewhat. After the radio program had ended, the teacher asked the pupils if they had washed their necks before going to school. Annika was the only one who answered yes

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Hacking it* in academia.

Nearly a year since I sent my dissertation to the printers and I am still wondering if I can hack it in academia. The feeling of not hacking it has been a constant companion. After nearly every supervisory meeting during my Phd I left with the feeling of ‘fuck how did I manage to trick them again’ right-up until the sleepless crescendo of my pre-print-proof seminar where I was convinced my supervisors would pull the plug. A year later, and still tenuously staying in academia, I wonder what even is hacking it?

Right now my working situation could be described as academic. I have a 50% 6-month teaching contract at Malmö Uni. I am also casually employed by Lund University and have been hopping in for various subjects from feminist theory to qualitative data analysis. I have written 24 post-doc application and been rejected from 20 (I hear about one I wrote back in April next week). I also have a writing fellowship at SASNET which means an extra desk and set of colleagues… and pressure to publish. I have worked nearly every Saturday since August. Hacking it, from my experiences this year, means saying yes to a broad range of interesting experiences, and working hard.

Looking ahead to role-models further up the hackierarchy I can see two tendencies. Well, maybe three. The first is to obtain tenure and then do the minimum in order to hack having a personal life as well. These charming but increasingly rare professors who go out for lunch and leave the office at 5pm. The second role model is engaged with a wide range of interesting initiatives. Those professors who you can ask for comments on your applications, who come to seminars, who organize trips for the students, the beloved super-humans. And perhaps a third growing category is those on stress-leave.

What does hacking it have to do with academia then? What does it mean that it is only alpha type humans who actively publish research? Is it possible to take into account experiences and world views from those who can’t hack it? Is it possible to create knowledge by all for all?

*can’t hack it

If you say that someone can’t hack it or couldn’t hack it, you mean that they do not or did not have the qualities needed to do a task or cope with a situation.

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