A talk with Professor Jason W. Moore

I don’t have a solid academic background. My words related to sociology and geography maybe not precise enough. But I still want to take a note of this meaningful memory. If I write anything wrong, please feel free to let me know. And I look forward to more interaction and feedback. And pardon me for my poor English. This is an article translated from this one.

May 24 2019. This is the day that students around the world have our climate strike. And on the same day Prof. Jason W. Moore came to National Taiwan University to gave a lecture about his perspective on climate change and capitalism. Me and some of my classmates in IPCS had some more talk with Prof. Moore after the lecture. We talked about tons of interesting topics: capitalism, academic research, ecology and energy, reflections on NGOs, passion and career, creativity.

※IPCS: International Master/Doctoral Program in Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Human being is not the problem, but “Capitalism”

The topic of Prof. Moore’s lecture is "Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Climate, Power, and Capital in the Making of Planetary Crisis" Recently, some geologists think that the Earth is already going from “Holocene” entering into “Anthropocene” (The era of Human), which means after Industrialization, the technology and institutions created by human beings have caused huge impact on the Earth. However, Prof. Moore thinks the term “Anthropocene” has created a situation of binary opposition: human beings versus the nature. It means we define “human beings” as the origin of modern problem. This thoughts is limiting our understanding of the world.

Prof. Moore considers "Capitalocene" a better term, because it clearly define capitalism as the problem. When we are studying climate change issues, “Capitalocene” helps us to have reflections on the system.

I invited professors to take a picture with me after the lecture for students’ ClimateStrike Campaign.

My classmates: No worries. Just talk to professors with your passion

Lien and I was so interested in the topic that we decided to send a letter to Prof. Moore, inviting him to have a dinner with us and our IPCS classmates. It is our pleasure to have this dinner. Thank you Lien for sending the letter!

When we invited our classmates to join into the dinner, some of them feel shy to do so, “I haven’t finish reading the book. I am afraid I am not prepared for the talk.” For students, we might have the image that having conversation to professors should be a very professional and formal. But it can also be very casual.

Prof. Chou from IPCS and Prof. Moore talked to us, scholars may have a tough background in academics and have read a lot of books. But students are people that are not fixed yet, full of passion and intuition. Therefore, they all like to talk to students. The most precious part of talking to students, is to hear from students’ curiosity, their desire of exploring the world, and their creativity. It can stimuli professors to new thoughts.

I feel so grateful that finally they decided to come, which made our talk even more fruitful.

T open up new conversations with broader creativity and imagination

We discussed about some slogans that people usually use would stop us from having better solutions to the problems. For example, “Saving the Earth” or “ Saving the polar bears”. Behind these sentences, there is an idea that “I” destroyed the Earth. “I” am the problem. However, “we” are not the problem, the problem is the world that runs with the value system of “capitalism”. Although, apparently, I should also be responsible for the environment, the people who have the biggest responsibility, are the riches and most powerful capitalists. To redefine the problem, helps us to see things from a new angle and coming out of new solutions. “I found that comparing to solving problems, it is more important to have a good definition of the problems.”It is what Lien found after she enters into her master program.

As a scholar, Prof. Moore says it is not only important for scholars to study, but also to find better terms and to tell a good story to the general public. As a campaigner, I always think from the side of taking actions: how do we find a more precise language, which we can use to describe the problem, and also to the communications. I took an example from Centre for Applied Theatre, Taiwan(CCAT)’s drama, “Finding Lucia”. In this drama, our goal is to let the audience recognize that the human right issue of migrant workers is related to every audience, at the same time, we also need to let them know the core problem is because of the international agency system; it is not enough to only blame the employers and the agencies. To get this message across is a huge challenge.

There are so many challenges in the modern world. We need more creative solutions. Prof. Moore also work with a lot of artist in the United States. So, I was having the idea that, the “more precise language” can also be other than words, it can be dancing, drama, painting or in other forms of arts. So we can also encourage researchers to do arts besides of their studies. It may help them to open up their body and their imagination which will be beneficial to the academics and social communications. I am so glad that Prof. Moore likes this idea, too.

Follow your passion and explore your career

We are master/PhD students. But it doesn’t mean we all want to become scholars. A lot of students are hesitating to have the next step of their careers. “Should we just walk to the direction where the society wants us to go?” One of our classmates asked this question. “Well…if you still have no idea what you want to do, that is not a bad idea.” Prof. Moore said that there is no correct answer when it comes to choosing your own career. It doesn’t mean that following the others, meeting the society’s expectation is bad. But he still encourages us, if we can find where our passion is, don’t be afraid to do so. Take some risks and then we will have clearer idea whether we like it or not. He said it is passion leads him to becoming a geographer and historian.

One of us wants to become an artist, one of wants to become a scholar, one of us maybe is still considering where she wants to go. And I want to become a facilitator, facilitating communications of the society.

“I think you already know what you want to do. You look passionate” I was so surprised when I received this comment from Prof. Moore. It is the second time, a professor had this observation of me, after Prof. Valerie Holton. I was curious how did he come to this conclusion. He said this is his intuition coming from his experience of interacting with students.

Just believe in me. Although I am also afraid as you

The subtitle of this part comes from the lyrics of the song, “Light,” sang by Enno Cheng. And this is also the ending of our conversation with Prof. Moore. The first time I heard the song, “Light”, was at Apr. 6, at the 2019 Presidential Office Concert in Taiwan. Enno’s sining was so powerful. Behind her, there were rainbow lights coming out of the presidential office, echoing the gay rights movements these years in Taiwan.

Lien sang the song “lights” in the lobby of the hotel. With her voice and her ukulele, it was so calm, pure, and soft. Lien will graduate very soon. She may have expectancy and worries to her future. And I myself, is a very in-confident person. Besides these, as a Taiwanese, I am also concerning about a lot of things in our country. The world is facing the challenge of climate change, the challenge of democracy crisis. In these circumstances, “Just believe in me. Although I am also afraid as you”, this sentence is always accompanying me and giving me a lot power.

I want to have the ability to build the trust in the society and facilitating communications. However in these days, I have seen so many challenges that Taiwan is facing, that the world is facing. I have seen some of youths come from China, they have somethings to say, but they don’t know how to speak out. I have seen a government is using the reporting system and its information war to destroy the trust between people in Taiwan and in China, only to consolidate its own regime.

As a luck person who can enter into a master program. Sometimes I scold myself, sometimes I feel powerless or hesitate. This song is a reminder for me, to remember there are still lights and hopes in the world.

Thank you Lien for sharing this song to Prof. Moore and to us. I am so appreciated.

In near future, we will still struggle and take steps forward. 謝謝玉蓮跟摩爾教授分享這首歌,而我也在最後向教授解釋了這首歌的歌詞,讓我們這次的小聚劃下了溫暖的逗點。是逗點,因為我們在未來,將在世界不同角落、以不同的職業,為自己小小的人生、或大大的理想,繼續一同前進。

光 Lignt

演唱:鄭宜農 Singer: Enno Chang
作詞:鄭宜農 Lyrics Writer: Enno Chang
作曲:鄭宜農 Composer: Enno Chang

我們的雙手緊握 We hold our hands tightly
在黑暗中 我不會把你放開 In the dark, I will not let go your hands
小心翼翼的走著 We walk carefully
再過不久 一定就能看見光 There will be not too long. We will definitely see the lights

你相信我吧 雖然我跟你一樣害怕 Just believe in me. Although I am also afraid as you
但我們可以一起尋找答案 But together we can find the answer
你相信我吧 就像我相信你一樣 Just believe in me. Just as my believes in you.
相信我們 能一起迎接天藍 Believe in me. And we will welcome the blue sky together.

你相信我吧 雖然我跟你一樣害怕 Just believe in me. Although I am also afraid as you
但我們可以一起尋找答案 But together we can find the answer
你相信我吧 就像我相信你一樣 Just believe in me. Just as my believes in you.
相信我們 能一起迎接天藍 Believe in me. And we will welcome the blue sky together.

我們的雙手緊握 We hold our hands tightly
在黑暗中 我不會把你放開 In the dark, I will not let go your hands
小心翼翼的走著 We walk carefully
再過不久 一定就能看見光 There will be not too long. We will definitely see the lights

我想離開 facebook、我想更用心記錄生命中的片刻與感觸、我想擁有更廣、更深的關懷與洞察力。一切就從寫字開始吧。