Institute at Brown for Environment and SocietyIBES

About the Presenters

Water's Edge (Earth, Itself  2018)

Earth, Itself Curator

Photo: Sarah WalkerPhoto: Sarah WalkerLENORE MANDERSON is Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Medical Anthropology in the School of Public Health at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, and Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (IBES), Brown University, Providence RI. She is author, among other works, of Surface Tensions (2011), and co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Medical Anthropology. She edits the international journal Medical Anthropology and is series editor of Medical Anthropology: Health, Inequality and Social Justice, published by Rutgers University Press. She teaches a course on biodiversity loss, climate change and innovation in the IE/Brown Executive MBA. In 2016, she was a recipient of the Career Achievement Award of the Society for Medical Anthropology, American Anthropological Association, honoring her work over 40 years. 

Panelists, Artists, Poets (alphabetical order) 

ANGELA BURNETT has served as The Virgin Islands Climate Change Officer for the past 10 years. Among other things, in this role she has educated the public, authored the Territory’s Climate Change Adaptation Policy, managed local adaptation projects and helped develop The Virgin Islands Climate Change Trust Fund.  

After witnessing the devastation of Category 5 Hurricane Irma, Angela felt compelled to act globally on climate change. Her new book “The Irma Diaries: Compelling Survivor Stories from The Virgin Islands” is an avenue for voices from the frontlines to be heard around the world to help people connect more personally to the impacts of climate change and resolve to act. Angela holds a BA from Brandeis University and a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from Rutgers University.

AKIKO BUSCH is the author of several essay collections, including Nine Ways to Cross a River, a series of linked pieces about swimming across American rivers, and The Incidental Steward, published by Yale University Press in 2013 and awarded an Honorable Mention in the Natural History Literature category of 2013 National Outdoor Book Awards. She was a contributing editor at Metropolis magazine for twenty years, and her work has appeared in numerous national magazines, newspapers, and exhibition catalogues. She is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts in New York City. 

BATHSHEBA DEMUTH is an assistant professor of history and environment & society at Brown University, where she specializes in the lands and seas of Russia and North America. Her current book project draws on years spent in Arctic communities to explore the parallel fates of capitalist and communist development around the Bering Strait.  From the archive to the dog sled, she is interested in the how the histories of people, ideas, places, and non-human species intersect. She holds a B.A. and M.A. from Brown University, and a M.A. and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Photo: John MidgleyPhoto: John MidgleyJENNIFER GALVIN, PhD, is a public health scientist by training and a storyteller by nature. She is internationally recognized for her work at the intersection of environment, health, media, and story. Commercial to indie, documentary to fiction, moving image to print – for Jennifer it all starts with a great story at reelblue, LLC – her independent film production and media company based in New York. More about Jennifer at and

FORREST GANDER, a writer and translator with degrees in geology and literature, was born in the Mojave Desert and lives in Petaluma, CA. Gander’s book Core Samples from the World, a meditation on the ways we are revised and translated in encounters with the foreign, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Among his recent titles are the novel The Trace, and two translations: Then Come Back: the Lost Neruda Poems and Alice, Iris, Red Horse: Selected Poems of Gozo Yoshimasu. Be With, his first book of poems since 2011, is forthcoming in 2018 from New Directions.
Photo: Brett Hall JonesPhoto: Brett Hall JonesBRENDA HILLMAN has published ten collections of poetry, all from Wesleyan University Press. In her five most recent collections, Extra Hidden Life, Among the Days (2018); Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (2013); Practical Water (2009), Pieces of Air in the Epic (2005), and Cascadia (2001), each book receives her ‘sustained attention’ to one of the natural elements. In 2016 she was named Academy of American Poets Chancellor. Her awards include the 2012 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the 2005 William Carlos Williams Prize for poetry, and Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. Hillman is the Olivia Filippi Professor of Poetry at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California, where she teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs. 

KATHERINE IBBETT is Professor of French at the University of Oxford, and Caroline de Jager Tutorial Fellow in French at Trinity College, Oxford. She is the author of Compassion’s Edge: Fellow-Feeling and its Limits in Early Modern France (2017) and The Style of the State in French Theater (2009), and the co-editor of Walter Benjamin’s Hypothetical French Trauerspiel (2013). She is working on a book entitled Liquid Empire, about the writing of water in France and the Americas. 

NOOR JOHNSON is a research scientist with a joint appointment at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University) and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (University of Colorado Boulder). Trained as a cultural anthropologist, her work focuses on politics and practices of environmental knowledge production and decision-making in the Arctic. Her most recent project examines the legal, political, and scientific dimensions of an offshore seismic testing project in Baffin Bay. She also works with community-based monitoring practitioners from around the Arctic on issues related to network-building and scaling environmental observations. Noor has served as a science policy advisor to the Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic Society, and the Inuit Circumpolar Council. Noor holds a PhD from McGill University, an MA from American University, and a BA from Brown University.

JOHN F. LÓPEZ is an assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History at UC Davis. López specializes in the visual, material, and spatial intersections between early modern Europe and the New World. His book manuscript, The Aquatic Metropolis, examines the centuries-old efforts by the Aztec and Spanish to combat catastrophic inundation at Mexico City via image making, urban planning, and environmental change. López connects this research to current climate change dialogue and debates, arguing that understanding of a given city’s historical arc of development relative to natural disasters in necessary in order to gain a deeper perspective of how to address the environmental challenges that cities will increasingly face in the climate-change era. In addition to a John Carter Brown Library Fellowship, López’s research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Council of Learned Societies, among others.

ZOE NYSSA is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Purdue University where she teaches classes on evidence, expertise, and practice. In collaboration with leading environmental organizations, her work combines traditional ethnographic methods with “big data” techniques to evaluate outcomes for environmental science and policy. Her first book, A Sense of Emergency and Possibility, tracks how biodiversity conservation became a science and why this matters. Previously, Dr. Nyssa was jointly appointed as Ziff Environmental Fellow at the Harvard University Center for the Environment and the Kennedy School for Government.

ELIZABETH RUSH is the author of Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore (Milkweed Editions, 2018). Her essays have appeared in Harpers, Granta, Guernica, Pacific Standard, Creative Nonfiction, Orion, Le Monde Diplomatiqueand others. Rush is the recipient of fellowships from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, Oregon State University’s Spring Creek Project, the Society for Environmental Journalism, the National Society of Science Writers and the Metcalf Institute. In 2016, she was awarded the Howard Foundation Fellowship by Brown University where she currently teaches courses on writing and reading literary nonfiction. 

COLE SWENSEN is the author of seventeen collections of poetry, most recently On Walking On (Nightboat, 2017), Gave (Omnidawn, 2017), and Landscapes on a Train (Nightboat 2015), and a volume of critical essays. Her poetic collections turn around specific research projects, including ones on public parks, visual art, illuminated manuscripts, and ghosts. Her work has won the National Poetry Series, the Iowa Poetry Prize, the San Francisco State Poetry Center Book Award, and the PEN USA Award in Literary Translation. A 2006 Guggenheim Fellow, she is the co-editor of the 2009 Norton anthology American Hybrid and the founding editor of La Presse Poetry ( She teaches at Brown University.


Photo: CookPhoto: CookARTHUR SZE has published nine books of poetry, including Compass Rose, The Ginkgo Light, Quipu, The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998, and Archipelago. His tenth book, Sight Lines, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in early 2019. Sze is the recipient of many honors, including the Jackson Poetry Prize, a Lannan Literary Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA Creative Writing fellowships, and a Howard Foundation Fellowship. A professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts, he lives in Santa Fe. 


WENDY WOODSON is a writer, director, choreographer, and video artist, and Roger C. Holden Professor of Theater and Dance at Amherst College.  She has created almost 100 works for stage and video presented in the U.S., Europe, New Zealand and Australia. Her video works and installations have been exhibited at festivals throughout the US, in Germany, Sarajevo, the DeCordova Museum and Immigration Museum, Victoria in Melbourne Australia.  Among other awards, she has received fellowships and grants in choreography, playwriting and video from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the D.C. Commission on Arts & Humanities, the Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation, and the Fulbright Commission. 

View the full schedule of events here.

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