KU to host international conference on environmental humanities

Thursday, May 23, 2013

LAWRENCE – More than 700 scholars from all over the world interested in the intersections of environmental studies and the humanities will come to the University of Kansas from Tuesday, May 28, through Saturday, June 1, for the 10th biennial conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment. The conference is one of the largest ever held at the university.

The conference theme, "Changing Nature: Migrations, Energies, Limits," will explore how global demands for energy, labor and resources have led to wide-ranging changes and challenges worldwide. The current conversations in environmental humanities demonstrate the renewed relevance of the old adage “everything is connected to everything.” As humans have migrated in search of better jobs, resources or opportunities, so have other species. They bring with them new toxins, diseases and increased demands for energy, forcing new limits on citizenship and resources that can often lead to violent clashes between and within nations.

The selection of KU as the conference site reflects both the university’s and Lawrence’s strengths in sustainability initiatives. Paul Outka, associate professor of English, is president of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment. Byron Caminero-Santangelo, associate professor of English, is the conference site host.

The conference lineup features noted environmental researchers and advocates from around the world who will participate in hundreds of workshops and seminars over the course of the conference.

In addition, three researchers with ties to KU and Haskell Indian Nations University who are at the forefront of national conversations about environmental impacts will be among the 10 plenary speakers at the conference:

  • Wes Jackson, president of the Land Institute and KU alumnus. Author of “Nature as Measure” and “Consulting the Genius of the Place.” Jackson is also a 2013 recipient of a KU honorary doctorate.
  • Daniel Wildcat, American Indian studies, Haskell Indian Nations University. Co-director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center, author of “Red Alert! Saving the Planet with Indigenous Knowledge” and co-author of “Power and Place: Indian Education in America.”
  • Donald Worster, professor emeritus of history, KU. Author of “Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas,” “Dust Bowl: the Southern Plains in the 1930s” and “A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir.”

The conference will also build on one of the major themes in KU’s strategic plan, Bold Aspirations. The theme of "Sustaining the Planet, Powering the World" recognizes that one of the greatest challenges of our time is to make discoveries to provide better stewardship of our resources and to become better caretakers of our environment.

The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment is the country's premier membership organization in the field of literature and environment. The organization conducts its biennial conference in odd years. The association is composed of educators, students, scientists and independent scholars totaling about 1,300 members from 30 countries.

The conference is sponsored by the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, the KU Office of the Provost, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Hall Center for the Humanities Nature and Culture Seminar, Department of English and Environmental Studies Program.


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