We live in the Anthropocene, an era characterized by a growing global human population, extensive urbanization, massive income disparity, unsustainable consumption, and fast-paced global warming. Ecosphere degradation caused by the enormous human population and its per capita consumption are the greatest theats for life on earth including human and other species.

Although many international conventions have committed to halting and even reversing ecosystem degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change, the empirical evidence shows irrefutably that negative environmental trends continue. Apart from the sobering reality that there is only one ecosphere (Earth) available to support humanity, our species has yet to manifest sufficient restraint and actions to maintain and improve its wellbeing through a more intelligent approach to managing the ecosphere. School of Resource Wisdom (JYU.WISDOM) is a revolutionary proposal at the University of Jyväskylä, and it tackles this challenge.

Planetary Wellbeing: a mission that matters

The root cause of and remediation to all environmental and societal problems is human behaviour. Planetary wellbeing is a concept that captures the wellbeing of people as well as the integrity and sustainability of our unique and biodiverse life-support system.

– We need to change our behaviour. Balancing human resource exploitation and ecosphere protection is imperative for planetary wellbeing, explains Director of the School of Research Wisdom and Professor of Ecology Janne Kotiaho from the University of Jyväskylä.

Transdisciplinary cohesion

Traditional disciplinary boundaries are likely to nurture conceptual incongruities hampering holistic advancement of collective thinking. To ensure transdisciplinary cohesion in the potentially fragmented ideas around the concept of Planetary Wellbeing, School of Resource Wisdom is right from the outset deliberately organized to be a transdisciplinary multifaculty research community. School of Resource Wisdom, or JYU.WISDOM, is a newly founded proposal at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, where experts think and discuss together to excel in the study of planetary wellbeing. Focus areas include, but are not limited to, resource wisdom, circular economy, sustainability of the use of natural resources, information technology and ethics of artificial intelligence, responsible corporate governance, food security, mental and physical health, and human wellbeing in general. JYU.WISDOM aspires to support, advance and advocate evidence based decision making with the ultimate goal of reducing the existential risk for humankind.

– Discovering and describing basic natural phenomena such as climate change or ecosystem degradation is the job of natural scientists. They lay the foundations for understanding the past and future trends as well as the current state of the planet. However, to make the society to act on the unmistakably unsustainable development we as a global community are currently undergoing, we need transdisciplinary thinking. We need the most progressive thinkers from all of the faculties we have in the University of Jyväskylä. Collective transdisciplinary thinking is the only way to instigate the behavioural changes needed in the society to reduce the self-inflicted existential risk for humankind, explains Hanna-Leena Pesonen, the dean of Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics.

Third task of the University taken seriously

Tasks of the academic community are to seek for truth and to pursuit deeper understanding of natural, including human societal phenomena through research, to disseminate our knowledge and understanding through education, and to change the world through actively networking in the society as critical clear-minded academic professionals. Research and to some extent education are the academic activities that are evaluated, measured and used in resource allocation, while the third task is seldom paid attention to. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the academic community is generally relatively passive towards societal challenges.

– In School of Resource Wisdom we will transform this. While we will naturally excel in the study and education of planetary wellbeing, we will simultaneously make a distinct effort in disseminating our understanding and make a difference in local, national and global decision making, Kotiaho states.

School of research Wisdom has already initated Wisdom Lunch Colloquiums that meet every forthnight over long lunch to discuss various crossdisciplinary sustainability issues. In addition JYU.WISDOM organises discussion evenings around the environment dialogs organized by Forum for Environmental Knowledge in Helsinki.

– We meet in Jyväskylä in Klubi-cabinet of hotel Alba whenever the dialog takes place in Helsinki. We have kind of a documentary movie night, ask live questions through Twitter, and continue discussions after the livestream has ended. This has been very inspiring and we welcome everyone interested to attend these free of charge open discussion events, concludes PhD researcher Anna-Kaisa Tupala, an active member of the community.

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