ASU scholars join conversation on climate, communities at Global Humanities Institute

By

Erin Peters

The Environmental Humanities Initiative in the Institute for Humanities Research at Arizona State University will explore vital lessons about the climate crisis and problems of scale this summer at the Global Humanities Institute.

The 2022 institute on "Climate Justice and Problems of Scale," which was twice delayed due to the pandemic, will take place July 29 to Aug. 7 as a public, hybrid event at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and online.

“After COVID delays, we are now ready with an innovative, hybrid platform for delivering an event that offers attendees varied options for access and participation,” said Joni Adamson, institute co-organizer and President’s Professor of Environmental Humanities at ASU. “As a hybrid event, the institute will be less-carbon-intensive than it may have been before the pandemic … and we have been able to diversify our class of attendees across five geographical regions in the world.”

ASU's Environmental Humanities Initiative is collaborating with the University of Texas Humanities Institute to conduct the Global Humanities Institute. The institute will focus on cultivating scale literacy among environmental humanists and scientists interested in the unequal ways in which the climate crisis impacts individuals and communities.

The institute will place a special emphasis on three main themes: conceptualizing scale for a changing climate; climate/justice on the ground; and futures of climate justice.

These themes will be explored by teams from various organizations at each of the six participating universities, including the Humanities Institute at the University of Texas at Austin; the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria; the Sydney Environmental Institute at the University of Sydney; the Institute for Humanities Research at ASU; the Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of Beirut; and the Humanities Center at Carnegie Mellon University.

ASU will be represented by Adamson; Steven Hartman, founding executive director of the BRIDGES Sustainability Science Coalition; Joan McGregor, Global Humanities Institute co-organizer, professor of philosophy and senior global futures scientist; and Sara Aly El Sayed, postdoctoral research scholar in public interest technology.

The institute is also an opportunity for early career scholars to gain experience and receive mentorship.

“Joan McGregor and I are so excited to be able to work with 15 brilliant, competitively-chosen early career scholars representing 18 (Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes) in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Lebanon, Canada and the United States,” Adamson said.

A major goal for all those attending the institute is to link scholarship developed in the humanities — books, articles and pedagogies  to scientific research into scale and climate crisis. The institute will introduce and contextualize an exciting, scaled-up response among humanists, scientists, and local and regional groups who are co-organizing communities of purpose and action.

“Together with 10 senior scholars from around the world, each of the early career scholars will co-produce knowledge and methodologies that place the humanities centrally into the social justice and sustainability curricula of the next generation,” Adamson said. “Our shared goal is nothing short of achieving intergenerational justice, for humans and the more-than-human world on which our future depends.”

Funding for the institute was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and awarded by the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes.

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