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What is planetary thinking?



"Planetary thinking means taking the Earth as a planet seriously: from the Earth's core to interplanetary space, from nanoseconds to deep time, from elementary particles to the Earth's mass. If interactions between our home planet and ourselves are at the center, a planetary knowledge paradigm takes shape. It is accompanied by the relativization of human existence in the universe and the relativization of the anthropocentric view. Questions of habitability and hospitality become more prominent. Thus the creation of new knowledge always means the creation of new worlds". 

Our galaxy the Milky Way. ©

Humans make a substantial contribution to this with their behavior and destroy the bases of life of their own generation as well as the following generations. In other words: Man can destabilize stable planetary conditions, but has not yet been able to restore them. Therefore, it is even more important to take an overall planetary perspective, to question interrelationships, to assess consequences and to create thinking spaces. The newly established "Panel on Planetary Thinking" at the Justus Liebig University of Giessen is therefore focusing on the interactions between the planet and humans.              

North Africa and Europe from the satellite Suomi NPP ©NASA/Norman Kuring


In the "Panel on Planetary Thinking", JLU researchers from the humanities, social sciences, cultural studies, natural and life sciences work together with very different methodological approaches. The Panel will bundle the knowledge at the University of Giessen in order to contribute to the international debate through its own research perspective on planetary thinking. In addition, it will provide scientific expertise to support the implementation of a university-wide sustainability strategy as envisaged in the "Development Plan JLU 2030". Networking with other institutions, especially with other Hessian universities, is being considered.



"In times of crisis, it becomes all the more clear that we have to say goodbye to narrow patterns of thought. The "Panel on Planetary Thinking" at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen transcends the boundaries of disciplines and expands them in the sense of an overall planetary perspective. I am glad that the researchers involved are looking at the topic of "sustainability" in this way, which we very consciously included in the Hessian University Pact 2021-2025. Among the university policy goals, it is explicitly stated that “sustainability should play an important role in the actions of every university (planetary thinking) in view of scientifically proven knowledge about the crossing of planetary boundaries.” (Angela Dorn, Hessian Minister for Science and Arts)