A joint LSESU Marine Society and Sail Britain expedition took an interdisciplinary crew of LSE students on a week-long, 140 nautical mile sailboat journey to Western Scotland in June 2019. Most of the crew, from the departments of Economic History, Anthropology, International History, Philosophy, and Geography and Environment, had never formally sailed before.
Onboard, it was a full deck of discussion topics. “We discussed the impact of climate change, not only on the marine ecosystem, but on the securitisation of the environment and how it fuels new cold wars in the Arctic due to the melting ice and the scramble for new natural resources,” said First Mate Julius Koschnick (PhD Economic History, 2023).
The crew also sampled water from various locations to measure plastic pollution. They were disturbed to discover that 15% of debris from the remote Loch Moidart contained plastic microfibres.
But what ‘messages’ could, or should, social scientists take from this data?
“We often assume scientific data leads to a clear path of action,” said Edvald Johnsen (BSc Social Anthropology, 2021). “This becomes a problem when the jump from data to action is not clear to others -- especially those in power. If we don't become aware of our assumptions, we will be less persuasive, because we can't see why we need to persuade in the first place.”
“Problems at sea are the result of failed governance on land,” said expedition leader Arzucan Askin (BA Geography, 2019). “We need more social scientists trained in addressing environmental issues, to bridge the divide between the evidence provided by natural scientists on the destruction of our environment and policy-makers/economists.”
Fellow expedition leader Sophia Dietrich (BSc PPE, 2019) added: “This sailing expedition will not only stay with us for a lifetime, we also hope that it can have a positive impact on future expedition standards, trailblazing carbon-neutral research."
Thank you to our regular giving donors for making this treasured expedition possible.