Nieuws - 8 april 2019

Between saving the world and wanting to be a rock star

Donatella Gasparro

Why are natural sciences so focused on data and numbers, and is the deeply human side so often completely left out? Blogger Donatella Gasparro wonders.

© Sven Menschel

I study agriculture-related sciences. Thus, natural sciences. Which too often translates into: data. Numbers. Calculations. My brain reads all of the above as: hell, hell, hell. I mean, I’ve struggled with numbers since elementary school. So dealing with my thesis numbers is what really destroys my mood more or less every day. All these number-related frustrations are slowly but steadily confirming that, although my call seemed to be to save the world, the truth is: I’ve always just wanted to be a rock star.

Landscape architects and social scientists opened small windows in the South of my brain allowing fresh air and good light to get in

Between saving the world and being a rock star, though, there’s a lot of stuff. And that’s where my housemates come in. Living in an international, multi-disciplinary house means – besides plenty of other things I’ll leave to your imagination – that you do not need to go very far to be inspired. Landscape architects and social scientists, while still in the WUR-academic domain (still quite far from stages and electric guitars, I have to admit) opened small windows in the South of my brain, allowing fresh air and good light to get in.

Breakfast talk shows
That’s how breakfasts become audienceless talk shows discussing the importance of feelings and emotions in landscape perception, and how much this whole deeply human side is so often completely left out in natural sciences. Landscape architects apparently have the opportunity to explore the edge between the extremely concrete entity which a landscape can be, and the much more subjective and vague concepts of perceptions and sentiments. Why can’t there be such a thing in agriculture, too?

I end up thinking: ‘oh, I should have studied *name of a random other discipline*!’ so often.

I’m strongly convinced that that’s what it is all about, eventually. Especially when it comes to environment, health, fairness. Choices and changes. And, of course, anthropology and philosophy have to sneak in, too. That’s how evenings on the couch become eye-opening conversations on politics, economics, the meaning of life and so on and so forth.
I end up thinking: ‘oh, I should have studied *name of a random other discipline*!’ so often. 
But then, you know what: 
1. I can still study whatever I want; 
2. Everything is so strongly connected; 
3. The most interesting part is the blurry domain that shies away from definitions, where everything interacts and blends.

Thus, note to self: never stop exploring the endless sea of hues between natural sciences and rock stars.