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Michael Osmenda

Man and ocean – a timeless topic for the humanities
(photo: Michael Osmenda)

Ocean research is and must be interdisciplinary – as, amongst many other examples, can be seen in Kiel’s Cluster of Excellence The Future Ocean. Natural sciences offer the most important pool of disciplines that need to cooperate in order to understand the oceans and gain new insights. With regard to ecology and marine resources, questions of economics and international law play an important  role – as well as engineering and various other technologies.

Where, though, do the humanities come in?

In short: Everywhere.

The humanities are the science of mankind, of human thought and behaviour, past and present. Everything where mankind and our world – historic and prehistoric – are involved, humanities add important facets of investigation and understanding. Oceans are an extremely important aspect in the history of mankind. They are a decisive part of the global ecosystem. They connect the continents and offer vital ways of transport. They have made possible entire cultures (such as the seafaring Minoan culture) – and in some instances destroyed them, due to storm floods, tsunamis, and sea level rise. The oceans of the world have been the scene of countless wars in the history of man. They have inspired writers, artists, musicians, storytellers and theologians in all cultures. They teach us lessons in numerous disciplines of the natural sciences.

It is the task of the humanities to tell the story of the oceans in our world. Not least, since mankind cannot exist without them.


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