Ronin Rather than Retirement?

By Ronin Research Scholar Martin Bohle

What makes the affiliation with the Ronin Institute attractive for people like me??

To situate the following, one should recall culture, that is, my cultural background. I was born in post-WWII Germany, at times when the re-emergence of Germany was an option, into a traditional family that had a critical view on Germany’s past. Knowledge, skills, work and civic duties were valued. I mention this because many Ronin Research Scholars come from very different cultures, as sensed through a continental European perspective.

Sixty years later, at that time still into a satisfying professional life, I was preparing for the times that many call retirement or ‘third age’. In substance, it is a kind of self-employment that you fund largely with reserves accumulated so far. Natural sciences, history and philosophy are my life-long interests because these arts answer the questions ‘was die Welt im Innersten zusammenhält,’ (loosely translated: whatever binds the world’s core together.) Consequently, they did determine my education and work (as a scientist and science manager). They also determined the subject for my third-age scholarship, namely, the societal context of the Geosciences (often called ‘geoethics’). Having settled the question of the research subject, I was looking for an affiliation. Why? Because an affiliation seems to make the scholarship ‘real’. I stumbled over an article in Nature that mentioned the Ronin Institute. I wrote to Jon Wilkins and here I am.

I am happy about my choice and opportunities at the Ronin Institute. It complements the other relationships that I nurture, such as scientific associations like the International Association for Promoting Geoethics for matters related to my research, or Edgeryders for outreach beyond scholarly circles. The Ronin Institute provides a home situated at the middle ground.

Looking back at the path that made me discover the Ronin Institute, I notice about six general drivers that may motivate people: (i) access to funding, (ii) meeting like-minded people, (iii) access to ideas, (iv) joining a forum to discuss, (v) fitting time-wise to the career path, or (vi) having a (scholarly) home. For me, the last two drivers were essential – in the first instance, having a home. Also, it fitted the path of life. I am in the luxury position that I can fund my research, that I have a network of like-interested people to discuss with. I am happy to contribute to Ronin by sharing and discussing ideas. I hope that by participating in these activities, I help build an environment that can raise funding and cooperation for Ronin fellows.

Hence, what makes the affiliation with the Ronin Institute attractive for people like me? To have a home to which one contributes something meaningful. Finally, going into ‘third age’ means autonomy, although knowing that over time its perimeter will shrink. Hence, you focus on something relevant within a broader pattern that others may shape.


Martin Bohle is interested, taking a systems perspective, in understanding the societal frameworks and the philosophy of the geosciences in times of anthropogenic global change. He was program manager at European Commission, (Brussels; retired 2019), educated as physical oceanographer, and applied geophysical fluid dynamics to lakes and marine ecosystems.

This post is a perspective of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Ronin Institute.

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