Institute at Brown for Environment and SocietyIBES



An Earth, Itself Event: April 10-12, 2019

Art Program: Lens on the Possible

Lucia Monge, Photography Installation: Mi Niño, Your Dry Spell, Their Waterfall

Film program with Magic Lantern: Local Perspectives on Global Change and Solutions: Nuclear Power and Degrowth Economies

Academic and Film Program

Wednesday, April 10

3:00pm (John Carter Brown Library): 
Nimble Species: Case studies on adaptation and opportunism
Chair: Jim Kellner (Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, IBES)
· Jesse Bellemare (Smith College), The umbrella magnolia in northeast US
· Peter Heywood (Brown University), Reversing extinction? Rebreeding quaggas in South Africa
· Toni Lyn Morelli (University of Massachusetts), Climate change refugia for the protection of biodiversity and recreation
· Lucia Monge (Brown University), Species adaptation, desert miracles, and art

5:00pm (John Carter Brown Library):
Opening reception

Thursday, April 11

10:00am (Alumnae Hall, Crystal Room)
The Challenges to Global Governance 
Chair: Lenore Manderson
· Alden Meyer (Union of Concerned Scientists), Global governance frameworks: Limits and reach
· Coleen Vogel (Global Change Institute, University of the Witwatersrand), Avoiding day zero and the local
· J Timmons Roberts (Ittleson Professor of Environmental Studies, IBES), Which way forward for climate action in the U.S., and the U.N.? Trump's withdrawal from Paris, fossil fuel-funded resistance, and the pathway for market-based and "Green New Deal" approaches in the 2020s

11:45am (Alumnae Hall, Crystal Room):
Brown Bag Lunch
Flash Lecture Competition

1:00pm (Alumnae Hall, Lobby):
Poster Session

2:00pm (Alumnae Hall, Crystal Room):
The Power and Limits of Local Interventions
Chair: Karen O’Brien (cChange and University of Oslo)
· Kristen Oehlrich (Triumph of Flora, LLC), Keeping the Berkshires green
· Camilo Viveros (George Wiley Center, RI), Poverty, social exclusion and climate action
· Stephen Porder (Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, IBES), Campus carbon pledges - where we stand and does it matter?
· Kathie Florsheim (University of Rhode Island and Living on the Edge (LOTE), Providence, RI), Wilful tresspassing

5:00pm (IBES 130—Carmichael Auditorium):
*new!* Confronting the Climate Emergency: A Park Bench Discussion on collective action and self-care 
· facilitated by Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists

On the park bench, we will talk about synergies and tensions between global, national, and local action, including issues that emerged throughout days one and two of Blue Sky. Alden will ask us: How and where have we chosen to focus our energies? What inspires hope?  How do we manage the challenges of dealing with the grief, anger, inadequacy, and other emotions that we, and others working with us, are experiencing as a result of the ever-mounting climate emergency?

Alden Meyer is the director of strategy and Policy for UCS and its principal advocate on national and international policy responses to the threat of global climate change.. 

6:00pm (IBES Lobby):

7:00pm (IBES 130—Carmichael Auditorium):
Magic Lantern and IBES: Films: Local Perspectives on Global Change

  • High and Dry: Cutting Fog for Science by Daniel and Rebecca Grossman (3 mins) 
  • Smoke by Dustin Brons (15 mins) 
  • The Catalysts of CHANGE: Adapting to Changing Weather in Ladakh by Chintan Gohil (10 mins) 
  • Brave New World by Sabine Gruffat (7 mins) 
  • Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change by Zacharias Kunuk and Ian Maura (1 hour) 

Co-organized with Thomas Pringle, Graduate Student, Modern Culture and Media


Friday, April 12

10:00am-12:30pm (Modern Culture and Media, 135 Thayer Street, Room: Production 1):
Workshop: Planetary Relays: Communicating Local Environments in Global Media History
*pre-registration necessary*
· Professor Christo Doherty (Digital Arts, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa)
· Professor Ariella Azoulay (Modern Culture & Media and Comparative Literature, Brown University)
· Derek J. Woods (Dartmouth College)

· Thomas Patrick Pringle (PhD Candidate, Modern Culture & Media and IBES, Brown University)

The Earth, Itself conference “Blue Sky” offers a two and a half-hour workshop conversation on strategies of media visibility that communicate local political concerns to broader audiences. By foregrounding site-specific histories of media visibility, the workshop aims to collaboratively frame the history of media communication as a resource for environmental politics. 

The iconic Blue Marble photograph taken by the astronauts on Apollo 17 has been credited for representing and unifying the emergence of a ‘global’ environmental political movement. The advent of planetary communication infrastructure and technology appears favorably positioned to continue this project, an ideal illustrated by the popularity of Instagram accounts like @everydayclimatechange or locally-sourced climate change activism platforms like Recently, however, several theorists working at the intersection of environmental politics and communication studies have challenged the understanding of mass and grassroots media as a catalyst of an ecologically-informed ‘global village.’  

For instance, Sheila Jasanoff critiques the embrace of a universal “global ecoconsciousness” as a lens premised on exclusion: “the associated shifts from local or national to global environmental thinking—although they can be documented—have been neither seamless nor smooth, but rather subtle, sporadic, partial, and unevenly distributed among the world’s political communities” (2001, 323). In recent humanities scholarship responding to the ideals and blind-spots of globally-oriented environmental political movements, scholars have proposed various strategic concepts to analyze politics that ‘act local and think global’ with attention to the historical and material complexities of a (post)colonial world: “ecoglobalism” (Buell); “eco-cosmopolitanism” (Heise, Beck); “slow violence” (Nixon); “strategic universalism” (Tsing);  “aesthetics of the earth” (Glissant); “earth democracy” (Shiva); or “anthropocene” (Chakrabarty); and so on.

Rather than engage this conversation by discussing the mediation of case studies traditionally legible as ‘environmental’ (i.e. Global Climate Change, Bhopal, Deepwater Horizon, Fukushima, etc.), this workshop proposes to think by analogy by looking to other examples of global and transnational engagement with culturally-embedded media production that represents localized political events at larger scales.  This workshop is led by Professor Christo Doherty from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, whose research and artistic practice have intervened in the politics of visibility cataloguing the 23-year South African Border War and the role of community media and global representations during the struggle against apartheid; Professor Ariella Azoulay from Modern Culture and Media and Comparative Literature at Brown, whose research and curatorial practice have emphasized both the political potential and violent complicity of photographic techniques within histories of imperialism and colonialism; and PhD candidate with Modern Culture and Media and IBES Thomas Patrick Pringle, whose dissertation describes the mediated tensions between regional documentation and global abstraction surrounding Global Climate Change. A short reading will be circulated beforehand and attendees are encouraged to share case studies with the group that emphasize, complicate, challenge, or comparatively inform the mediation of local environmental problems to broader audiences.

Refreshments will be provided.

3:00pm (IBES 015):
Agility, Engineering and Adaptation
Chair: Christo Doherty (University of the Witwatersrand)
· Dov Sax (Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, IBES), Climate Change, Species Extinction and Controversial Conservation Interventions
· Jack Mustard (Professor of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, Brown), Why space research matters in a warming world: Perspectives on Planet Earth from Space Exploration
· Jim Head (Louis and Elizabeth Scherck Distinguished Professor of the Geological Sciences, Brown), Human exploration's next destinations
· Derek J. Woods (Dartmouth College), Scale, ecological science writing, the terrarium and science fiction
· Nancy Jacobs (Professor of History, Brown), The African Grey Parrot as a Space Traveler

5:00pm (IBES 130—Carmichael Auditorium):
Keynote Lecture: Quantum Social Change: You Matter More Than You Think
· Karen O’Brien (Founder and Chief Research Officer of cChange, Nordic Social Innovation Incubator, Oslo, Norway, and Professor, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, The University of Oslo)

Are we heading for societal collapse? Are we doomed for extinction?  Global change research tells us that we are on a dangerous path, and that we have a small window of opportunity to respond. However, at a time when radical transformations are called for, most people feel they cannot make a difference. In this talk, O'Brien will explain why we may be underestimating our individual and collective capacity for social change. Drawing on the emerging field of quantum social theory, she will discuss the role of metaphors, meaning-making, consciousness, and creativity in “mattering.” O'Brien will suggest that subtle shifts can empower quantum social change, and that each of us matter more than we think.

6:00pm (IBES Lobby):
Book Launch: Urgency in the Anthropocene
By Amanda Lynch & Siri Veland

7:00pm (IBES 130—Carmichael Auditorium):
Magic Lantern and IBES: Films: Solutions

  • Life After Growth—Economics for Everyone by Claudia Medina (25 mins)
  • The New Fire by David Schumacher (1 hour 24 mins)

Co-organized with Thomas Pringle, Graduate Student, Modern Culture and Media

Click here for full participant bios and abstracts.

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