Kickoff Reading for Planet Earth book club meetings

Published on
May 8, 2023

Science, indigenous knowledge and more than 30 participants showed up at the first FNP book club meeting on 3 May. A good start.

Not everyone present were fans of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, which wasn’t a bad thing at all because arguments and different viewpoints on ‘Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants’ (book subtitle) were randomly tossed about during the first gathering of the ‘Reading for Planet Earth’ book club.

The club is open to all and invites participants to read and discuss books that advance green thinking and doing. ‘Green’ could relate to nature conservation, (human) ecology, sustainable consumption, or to environmental sustainability in the broadest sense. The chosen books are not mainstream academic or study books but books which appeal to the wider public. As such, the meeting attracted people from different walks of life.

Student Dean Ruur Boersma of Wageningen University said she taught a course in the 1990’s on integral agriculture (Integrale Landbouwkunde) which touched on the basic attitude of human beings to nature, one of the themes of the first book on the reading list.

A gift

Niels de Vos, who graduated in 2018 with a MSc in Forest & Nature Conservation Policy, feels that the book club is a gift because his present work is not nature-related while his heart is in nature.

First year MFN students Lotte Berends and Denisse Román Clemente attended the first meeting because they are interested in the theme of connection to nature. Besides, students can earn study credits for participating. Exchange student Emma Pham from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver grew up near the setting in the book. “I often speak to my friends about outside-the-curriculum style of learning described in the book,” she says.

FNP lecturer Koen Arts felt that the first meeting was a big success, and he believes this to be the start of a promising new tradition from which all involved will benefit and draw inspiration and joy. He set up the club together with guest researcher Mohsen Roozbahani.

“There was a remarkable conversation during the first meeting which showed the transformative impact which reading books can have on each of us,” says Mohsen. “It can ignite a new found desire to reconnect with nature.”

More than 100 have signed up with the club since it was announced in March this year. Read more about the book club here.

The next meeting will on held on 5 June.