To try and make our research more sustainable, we are learning to sail! We are inspired to sail not only for the environmentally friendly aspect, as pursuing our research into Sustainability by flying around the world, or just staying in one place doesn’t really make sense. But also because of the pandemic, we don’t feel it’s safe or prudent to travel, not only for our safety, but because we are seeing here on Madeira, the pandemic is advancing because of those planes arriving often full of people. So if we go somewhere, we want to be sure, and we think the quarantine at sea and testing on arrival is a better bet. Our island futures include visiting as many islands as we can, to learn and share, develop contacts and our network, and try to understand what sustainability really means to people around the world, and we hope that eventually we can sail there.
When we were doing our PhD’s in the mountain region of Trentio-Alto Adige in Italy, we were focussing on more abstract concepts; Greta was investigating using ontological analysis to study aspects of Business Process Modelling, thinking about participants, roles, events, and so on. I was picking apart the idea of Agonism, harnessing conflict as a potential creative resource in Social Design, and citizen engagement, urban game and play. But we were all the while asking, what’s next? The PhD seems like the pinnacle of education, but in fact it’s just the beginning of a proper research career. For both of us, what became evident, beyond the challenges and hardships of the PhD degree, was the actual privilege and opportunity that being funded to study really is. And for both of us, it became clear that we wanted to do something meaningful, perhaps even impactful for the world and for others. Ok, this sounds lofty and altruistic when i write it, but it’s true, and as both of us grew up by the sea, Greta in Genoa and myself, on Okinawa, it was easy to decide the path we are currently on: we would devote the next phase of our lives and works to exploring what we could contribute to environmental sustainability, and we would return to the sea.
Of course, we quickly discovered that sustainability is about much more than the natural environment, it’s a complex arrangement between the continued development of humanity, and the uplifting of all peoples to the level of prosperity, health and technology that define our modern civilizations, but at the same time cherishing more traditional values of society, culture, and living with harmony with nature. There are so many aspects to this concept of Sustainability, and we plan to write and share more on our journey to actually finding, how best to contribute. There are also so many things we can potentially do in pursuit of sustainable living, and reflecting on conservation and sustainable practice is possible in every aspect of life and work. This includes learning to sail!