Four days, 50km and a question – what is of value?
Digital Life Norway has the mandate to create economic, social and environmental value from biotechnology research in Norway. We hit the trail in Jotunheimen to explore what this could mean.
It is early afternoon on Wednesday September 11, 2019. We are roughly at one thousand meters above sea level, descending a gently sloped valley on foot. The forecast rain has started, more of a steady drip than a downpour. All 17 of us are wrapped in rain gear whose neon colours are in stark contrast to the earthy grey tones of the Alpine tundra landscape around us. We just passed kilometre 12, and there are eight more to go until we shall arrive at today’s destination. Some are getting tired. We are in Jotunheimen. People are immersed in conversation with the person walking behind or in front of them. They ponder questions like –what research is thought to be of value, and by whom?
Image: Daniël Roelfs.
We are on a Walkshop. The topic is ‘creation of value’. Some have come to discuss what is of value, how do we value it, how may value be created and sustained by the biotechnology of the future? Others have come because they like hiking. We are from eight nations, as many women as men, professors, PhD candidates, postdocs and others. But this matters no longer. We have left the hierarchies behind, together with the cell reception. We have become interested in each other. We listen. The landscape, the exposure, the physical effort, they heighten a sense of existence. We listen more because we want to understand why something matters to the person behind me when I value it differently.
Image: Daniël Roelfs.
We float in and out of conversations. In another three hours we will have arrived at the second last of the four cabins along our way. We will have the chance to dry and warm up. The well-deserved beer is ordinary, but it tastes like sheer luxury. We will have gathered by the fireplace, checking in on the day’s impressions. Our guest Max from Austria will lead the conversation. We all will join in. Tomorrow we will have concluded our hiking. Our conversations will have become different. We will have known each other for four days. We will have understood what the other means when they laughed. We will have had the time to look at ourselves from a different perspective. In a few days we will have returned to our work. Our colleagues will wonder if we found the answer. We will share with them the value of kairos in a world ruled by chronos.
Rommetveit, K., Strand, R., Fjelland, R., & Funtowicz, S. (2013). What can history teach us about the prospects of a European Research Area? Report procured by the European Commission-Joint Research Centre, Institute for the Protection and the Security of the Citizen (Procurement procedure IPSC/2011/03/01/NC). Chapter 11.