Jenna Witzleben

MFA Thesis Blog

This blog contains experiments, project and reading reflections, unanswered questions, and more relating to my year-long thesis as part of my Master's design program. From Sept. 2016 to May 2017, I explored rewilding human beings and the environments we inhabit at multiple scales including investigation around individual fears of nature, regional food production systems, and global overpopulation. The final works of this thesis can be found in my portfolio.

Finding the Problem

In our various courses this semester, we have been asked to state the problem we are addressing in our thesis, or at least some sort of core thesis goal or belief. Earlier in the thesis process we were encouraged to view the thesis more as an exploration, so it hasn't been until now that we've need to make our focus more explicit.

When asked to verbally express the thesis of my thesis, I usually describe it along these lines:

"Our technological approaches to address our environmental degradation are not enough. We need to rewild humanity in order to live on this planet."

Upon typing out the "thesis of my thesis" this expanded into:

"We need more than solar panels to counteract the steep decline in our environmental health. We need physical and emotional proximity to our own animal sensibilities (and mortality) and to our interwoven ecosystem. Modern civilization is not the final answer and our narratives of progress are misguided. We need to set new goals and priorities for the future of humanity. This body of work emphasizes the need for new narratives and begins to suggest options. This is about bridging the metabolic rift. It is about closing the gap between human body, human wildness, and the wildness of the earth."

In our Service Entrepreneurship course we have also been working on problem statements. These have included:

- "We view ourselves as the managers of the earth, but that is not our ecological function."

- "Our fear of mortality prevents us from embracing our animal-ness."

- "We don't have a clear image of the gains/losses accompanying the deconstruction of civilization."

- "We have a misheld assumption that living in the wild is dangerous (and inferior) / that living in modern civilization is healthy."

- "The only way for humans to thrive on this plant is to remodel our lives closer to paleolithic humans - but modern humans either don't know this or are too afraid to change."

- "Fear of sickness and death keeps humans from thriving on the earth."

Finally, as part of the development of a speculative future, I created a framework called the 6 Guides, which act as metrics for a rewilded future. They are:

1.       Humans are equal to other species and life forms

2.       We maintain a sense of wonder about living things from childhood throughout our lives

3.       We aim to take our proper place inside the ecosystem

4.       We work to actively counter the negative impacts of our former civilization

5.       We deconstruct the rules, stigmas, and traditions that counter our natural human instincts

6.       Minimize our separation from our beautiful Earth



Jenna Witzleben