Explorations in Time and Temporality

A Public Humanities Project by the Geoffrion Family Fellows at Miami University’s Humanities Center 2019-2020

Marcia Bjornerud

Dr. Marcia Bjornerud is a professor of Geology and Environmental Science at Lawrence University. She is a public intellectual who has written in the LA Times and The New Yorker about time and geology such as “Meditation on an Ancient Beach” as well as articles on other environmental issues in the world today. She has also written two books on geology, Reading the Rocks (2005) and Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World (2018). In this podcast, she discussed the idea that geology has the ability to transcend humans’ experience of time by studying rocks, which are analogous to text which possess parts of the past and give a history of the earth. Moreover, she discussed how we can be more temporally literate and situate ourselves in a larger framework of time. That is to say, human life tends to revolve around a capitalistic time that operates on a short time frame, e.g., months or, at best, a year. On the other hand, geologic time spans millions of years and provides a framework for thinking about changes over a long period of time such as climate change.