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Climate Change and Ecologies of Value

Increasingly, scholars of global warming stress that by becoming geological agents, humans have disturbed the essential conditions (such as the temperature zone in which the planet exists) that they need to survive. Humans have arrived at this juncture through their drive towards "progress" ever since the Industrial Revolution and the widespread introduction of fossil fuels. Humanity's greed and competitive drive that brought us to our current plight continues, preventing us from fully taking on board the psychological, spiritual and ethical toll of dramatic changes to the well-being of many around the globe, and of many more in the near future. In order to deal with the human crises that are in the offing (if not already here, as Timothy Morton believes), we need to address the enormous anxieties and losses involved and the ongoing distress to humans suffering from them. HISB's "Ecologies of Value" project addresses what it means to be human in a time like this when challenges to daily life seem unsurmountable. We aim to address the culture of denial that hinders bringing people into awareness of what awaits them. Working with our colleagues at the Higgins School of Humanities at Clarke University, HISB hopes to replicate local "councils" modeled on the ones already taking place at the Clarke Institute. As the Director of the Higgins School put it, the councils will "begin to address our circumstances by both integrating and transcending the specific environmental, moral, political, and intellectual dilemmas posed by them." She continues to note that "Such a conversation may take participants into fearsome aspects of imagination and psyche, through questions requiring both intellectual and spiritual courage." We look forward to engaging in such an attempt to illuminate the human condition in our historical moment.   Utopia/Dystopia Page Banner

Humanities for the Environment

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Thursdays, 4:00pm, 1008 Humanities Bldg

Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 4:00 pm

"Towards an Oil Inventory"

Jennifer Wenzel, Columbia University

In the spirit of Edward Said and Antonio Gramsci, this talk will trace the presence (and absence) of oil in our lives, so that we might “know ourselves” in relation to oil and our attachments to it. What if oil now informs our understanding of what it means to be human?

Jennifer Wenzel is a scholar of postcolonial studies and environmental and energy humanities and Associate Professor English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of  Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anticolonial Prophecy in South Africa and Beyond and co-editor (with Imre Szeman and Patricia Yaeger) of the forthcoming book,  Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment.


Thursday, November 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm 

"Photographing People in Nature"

Lucas Foglia, Photographer

This talk will focus on art, activism and climate change, and how to share stories with the world.

Lucas Foglia grew up on a family farm in New York and currently lives in San Francisco. His photographs are exhibited and collected internationally. He has authored two books, and works for magazines including National Geographic and the New York Times Sunday Magazine .


Spring 2016 Lectures:

Tonya Lewis, SUNY Buffalo

"Race Matters: Environmental Justice and Climate Change: Who Will Be Left Behind on Long Island?"

Thursday, February 11, 2016

4:00 p.m. at 1008 Humanities

Environmental justice is the idea that underserved communities face environmental challenges at a disproportionate rate. The talk will discuss the policies that are in place to protect these groups and why community action is important where policy gaps occur. We will look to examples globally, within New York State, and on Long Island, specifically in relation to migrant populations and climate change. 

Tonya Lewis is a New York Council for the Humanities Public Scholar and an Instructor in Geography at SUNY Buffalo. Lewis has published in both law and scientific journals on the topic of New York State's policy on environmental justice, postulating that the policy is inadequate at protecting vulnerable populations.

This Public Scholars event, which is free and open to the public, is made possible through the support of the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Humanities Institute at Stony Brook.

Michael Klare, Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies

"When Worlds Collide: The Intersection of Climate Change, Resources, War and Peace"

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

5:00 p.m. at Humanities 1008

Climate change will bring enormous pressures to bear on human societies and institutions, conceivably pushing some to the breaking point.  If we fail to address these pressures in a constructive, cooperative fashion, the results could include war, state collapse, and mass migrations.  Efforts to address climate change in a united, cooperative fashion can enhance the prospects for human societal survival and world peace.  Which of these outcome prevails will be up to us?

Michael Klare is the Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies, a joint appointment at Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  He is also the defense correspondent of The Nation and a contributing editor to Current History.  He is the author of 14 books, including Resource Wars, Blood and Oil, and, most recently, The Race for What's Left.