2014 NES Colloquium Schedule

The 2014 program includes presentations from Nina Young; Yael Wyner & Rob DeSalle; William Blick; Jill McNulty Clegg; Harry Bubbins; Caleb Crawford; Michael Menser, Nathalie Allegre & Brett Branco; Paul Hunt; Betsy Damon; Linda Weintraub, Kia Benbow, Justin Calvert, Haillie Hadar, Josephine Jason, Abraham Jefferson, Madelyn Johns, Eva Neves & William Wolfe; Lindsay Campbell;  Nir Krakauer; Rebecca Bratspies, Amosh Neupane & Makaylah Comas;and Mychal Johnson, Leah Kozak, Monxo Lopez & Karen Argenti

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NES & STREAC Present: A Screening of the 2013 Documentary GRINGO TRAILS

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How do travelers change the remote places they visit, and how are they changed? Gringo Trails, a new documentary film offers answers—some heartbreaking, some hopeful. From the Bolivian jungle to the party beaches of Thailand, and from the deserts of Timbuktu, Mali to the breathtaking beauty of Bhutan, Gringo Trails shows the unanticipated impact of tourism on cultures, economies, and the environment, tracing some stories over 30 years. Directed by Anthropologist Pegi Vail ,PhD.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 @ 6:30 PM

Graduate Center, Rm. 6304.01, Sylvia Scribner Conference Room

Brief Discussion Moderated by Nature, Ecology and Society to Follow with Light Snacks and Drinks

Admission is free, RSVPs are requested: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1zxui_UIE-lNruiJYi07kvM_6jHQHmAMPzlzWhbA3TKc/viewform

New York City After Sandy

To foster thoughts and conversations about this year’s topic, Superstorm Sandy: Before, During, and After, we’d like to share with you all an article published by one our presenters, Tom Angotti, PhD. Tom Angotti is Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning & Development (CCPD). Tom spoke on the topic, “After Sandy: Short-term Planning and Longstanding Inequalities” at the colloquium this past March.

Angiotti Cover

In his article that relates to his upcoming presentation, New York City after Sandy, . Tom raises important questions about the repercussions of short-term vs. long-term planning in the New York City region within a social justice framework. By asking who benefits and who pays for decisions like waterfront development, or development along the toxic Gowanus canal, his article brings to the forefront questions about existing urban, environmental, and social inequalities that are perpetuated by planning decisions that are shortsighted. He calls for more holistic, long-term planning approach to rebuilding New York City as we face a future of rising sea waters and more superstorms like Sandy. His article offers a lot of food for thought and was a basis of our discussions during the colloquium.


NES Luncheon Composted at Brook Park in the Bronx

NES Compost in the South Bronx

The Friends of Brook Park offered to compost our food and paper waste after the Tenth Annual Colloquium

The NES Colloquium was a resounding success. We welcomed over 225 people over the course of two 8-hour days of presentations, workshops, films and performance, replete with a free sustainable luncheon on the second day.

Communal Table catered our meal, even going so far as secure a donation of eggs from Brooklyn Farmyards, a Brooklyn-based farming network and Egg CSA (community supported agriculture). The meal was DELICIOUS!!! Thank you Ame and Deena! Communal Table purchased our completely compost-able / biodegradable paper goods and utensils from Sustainable Party so that ours was a Green Luncheon from stem to stern!

Recycling committee members Maggie Ornstein and Christine Caruso took our food and paper waste to the South Bronx for composting. Our Friends at Brook Park graciously offered to compost it for us. With all of their fantastic initatives, our compost will likely contribute to Community Gardens and other green thumb initiatives across the South Bronx.

Our biggest thanks go to our friends, The Friends of Brook Park!

2011 NES Luncheon Compost

2011 NES Luncheon Compost – Brook Park, South Bronx, NY

Thank You for Making the 10th a Great Success!

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been one month since the grand festivities of the 10th Annual Nature, Ecology, & Society Colloquium: The Culture of Climate Change.  By now, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had enough time to digest the wonderful information presented over those exciting two days. From ecological art exhibitions and polemic poems, to climate monologues and interdisciplinary conversations on climate change, the Colloquium was a resounding success!

On behalf of the NES organizers, blog team, and volunteers, I’d like to take a moment to thank the presenters and attendees for arriving with such warm spirits and creating a fun, interactive learning environment that facilitated deep discussion on pertinent global issues of Climate Change. I’d also like to personally thank the presenters and artists who participated in our Colloquium blog—being that it was our inaugural blog, your well-thought out responses and cooperation were greatly appreciated! We hope to expand the blog even further next year to include more presenters. Until then we will be keeping you up-to-date on the latest NES happenings for the 11th Annual Colloquium, scheduled for March 2nd, 2012.

Here are some great photographs* of the event:

(click on thumbnails to enlarge)

*Photographs courtesy of Aleta Wolfe and David Chapin

We hope you all had as much fun at the Colloquium as we had planning it. Hope to see you all next year!

Stay tuned for more updates!

Behind the Scenes: About a (Sustainable) Meal

A Backyard Farming Network in Brooklyn

At our Colloquium, The Culture of Climate Change, we are not only facilitating discussion on Climate Change issues, but also promoting sustainable living practices. We are thrilled to be talking the talk and walking the walk this year! Tomorrow, Friday March 11th, we are hosting a Sustainable Luncheon, kindly sponsored by Ame and Deena of Communal Table (advanced registration was required and ticket distribution is still on a first come, first served basis so please arrive at least one hour before the luncheon to claim your ticket). They were able to arrange a generous donation of locally sourced, responsibly and locally produced eggs from Brooklyn hens through Brooklyn Farmyards, a local consortium of agricultural urban backyards and compostable utensils and flatware to boot!

Christine Caruso will be giving a background on the Sustainable Luncheon through her presentation, “About a Meal” on Friday, March 11th from 12:00-12:30pm in the Martin E. Segal Theater before everyone breaks for lunch. Christine is currently a doctoral student in the Environmental Psychology subprogram at The Graduate Center. Her research has focused on community supported agriculture (CSA) in Queens, New York and she is currently working with multiple community partners to develop a Food Co-op in Western Queens. We were happy to catch up with Christine to ask her a few questions about her exciting presentation.

Christine, can you tell us a little bit about your presentation, “About a Meal”?

My presentation on Friday is entitled, “About a Meal” and will highlight the wonderful lunch being provided by Communal Table, while examining the relationship of food to climate change. Specifically I hope to highlight the multiple dimensions of food and sustainability and point out that it is a way for all of us to “choose sustainable” everyday.

Wow, attendees stand to learn a lot from your presentation. Can you enlighten us a bit on how Friday’s Sustainable Luncheon came to fruition?

Fresh Farm-Grown Vegetables

As far as organizing this exciting meal we are going to share, I have to acknowledge the amazing work of Ame at Communal Table for her vision, hard work and commitment to local and sustainable food. It is through her relationships with vendors that we will be able to provide this wonderful meal that will include sustainable items such as compostable plates and flatware, as well as eggs from Brooklyn! And while much work has been put into organizing this by many hands, I have to point out that it is through the tireless work of our food committee volunteer Ofelia that much of this has come together.

Be sure to check out Christine’s presentation, “About a Meal” on Friday, March 11th from 12:00-12:30pm in the Martin E. Segal Theater to learn more about our Sustainable Luncheon as well as learn about the many benefits of eating local, community food.

A HUGE thank you to our Food Committee and Communal Table for working together to make a Sustainable Lunch at the Colloquium this year possible!

Behind the Scenes: Living Well in Little Space

With a steadily growing global population and the resulting expansion of urban and rural areas worldwide, it’s important that we begin to carefully consider the space we live in. According to architect David Chapin, a faculty member in the subprogram of Environmental Psychology at The Graduate Center, if we all aspired to live in far less space we would reduce environmental costs. David will be introducing five different environmental design patterns that he implements in the remodeling of his own apartment during “Living Well in Little Space”, Friday, March 11th from 10:00-11:00am in the Martin E. Segal Theater. We were curious to learn more about David’s presentation, and he was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.

David, what was the inspiration behind “Living Well in Little Space”?

David Chapin

I like to build places and I like to think about how we desire different sorts of places.  A lot of what we desire is really bad for exacerbating climate change; we make choices that are not at all sustainable.  But still, we desire what those bad choices give us.  So I try to understand what it is that we are getting from bad choices that might be gotten in some sustainable way.

What sources of information do you utilize for remodeling?

A life of experience in building things; early on doing research in mental hospitals making environmental changes that made places less damaging; absorbing what is in the air, so to speak–messages come at us all the time.

That’s a great point. Does Climate Change influence your projects? If so, how?

It’s a context that I work within and think about, but I don’t claim to be addressing climate change head on.  The best I can claim is some enthusiasm for better choices because they are desirable, not just because they are morally superior.  There would be a zest for what could be rather than a sense of what has to be given up.

What audiences do you aim to reach with your work? Does this differ with the audiences you actually reach?

First, I am aiming towards ME as an audience.  I don’t think “they” is the problem; I think “I” is the problem.  I’m the one who needs to educate my desires.

Be sure to attend David’s presentation on “Living Well in Little Space” on Friday, March 11th from 10:00-11:00am in the Martin E. Segal Theater. It could change the way you perceive your personal living space, as well as give you ideas on how to make the most of your space.

And don’t forget to register for the Colloquium!

Behind the Scenes: A New Cultural Outlook on Climate Change

While our culture tends to discuss Climate Change in terms of how it will affect the planet and humanity over the upcoming decades, Seth Baum offers us a broad and intriguing outlook on Climate Change. Seth, a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at Pennsylvania State University, will present his research project, “A New Cultural Outlook on Climate Change,” aiming to broaden our horizons across space and time as much as is physically possible, which involves considering the universe beyond Earth and the potential for Climate Change to affect it. Seth’s presentation, “A New Cultural Outlook on Climate Change”, will take place on Friday, March 11th from 11:00-12:00pm in the Martin E. Segal Theater. We were lucky enough to interview Seth to learn more about his interesting outlook on Climate Change.

Seth, what do you find most implicating about your research on Climate Change?

Seth Baum

At its most basic level, my research is designed to be implicating in the sense of having implications for what we should be doing both as individuals and as societies. The specific implications depend on what ethical views we hold. At the NES event, I will be presenting views that imply that we should prioritize helping reduce risks to the existence of global human civilization so that Earth-originating civilization can colonize space before the world ends. These ‘existential risks’ include worst-case climate change scenarios. For more detail, see (http://sethbaum.com/views), especially the part about existential risk reduction. The idea of our actions on climate change as being part of Earth-originating civilization doing something truly special with the universe is the ‘new cultural outlook’ I’m presenting.

What do you hope people take away from your presentation?

My presentation will be oriented as much towards soliciting audience feedback as it will towards delivering ideas to the audience. I hope that I take away insights from the audience about how to more effectively talk about existential risk reduction and share the idea as an outlook on climate change. I hope that audience members will take away an understanding of the idea that reducing existential risk can be seen as a priority, and will consider how this idea meshes with their own ethical views. For those who find this idea intriguing or even persuasive, I hope they take away starting points for how to get engaged.

What audience to you aim to reach? Do these intended audiences differ from the audiences you actually reach? How do you think your work can be brought to varied audiences for greater reach?

Currently, my work is confined primarily to academic audiences. I aim to reach audiences far beyond the academy. There are a lot of people out there trying to make the world a better place; I would like to give them new ideas for how to do this as well as arguments for these ideas. There are also people out there who are not trying so hard to make the world a better place; I would like to give them arguments for trying harder. But I’m somewhat struggling with how to go about doing this. My presentation and broader participation at the NES Colloquium aims to get new ideas or even collaborations for this.

Don’t miss Seth’s presentation, “A New Cultural Outlook on Climate Change,” on Friday, March 11th from 11:00-12:00pm in the Martin E. Segal Theater. It could very well forever change the way you think about Climate Change!

Be sure to register to attend this year’s Colloquium!

Behind the Scenes: The Poetic Side of Ecological Art

A very exciting Panel Session on “Ecological Art” at this year’s NES Colloquium will bring together an international group of ecological artists whose practice involves the examination, exploration and representation of climate change issues to present a visual, aesthetic alternative to the usual discourse on the issue. We are very happy to have ecological artist David Haley, a Research Fellow at the Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design (MIRIAD) at Manchester Metropolitan University, as a panelist during this session. David will be presenting a unique form of ecological art, a bespoke poem, during the “Ecological Art” Panel Session on Thursday, March 10th from 4:00-5:00pm.

We caught up with David over the weekend to learn more about his artistic process and he was kind enough to share with us an evolving draft of his poem. By sharing the poem prior to its presentation, it is hoped that the text will act as a catalyst for comments and possibly “change, as a process of becoming–moving from order to disorder and the potential for organisation. The poem finally emerges on March 10th in a particular place at a particular time, through the eventual performance.”

Here is David’s poem for your personal reflection:

This is the real world
A real world situation
This is disjuncture

Trying to make sense
The culture of climate change
Uncertain futures

Blind to the machine
Must override the default
And blind to itself


Action escapes will
Our part in the way of things
Culture of contempt

Complicit comfort
In cognitive dissonance
Suspend disbelief

A three-ring circus
A convenient justice
And hypocrisy


From vain certainty
To extreme environments

Breaking the threshold
Going beyond dangerous
This is becoming

Embodied we are
See how to listen


Order. Disorder
In reframing the questions

Writing’s on the wall
Celebrating paradox
Growth ecology

Time of metaphor
Profound Not Knowing
Madly letting go

David, thank you so much for sharing your poem with us. Where did you find the inspiration for such poetic and polemic ecological art work?

Reflecting on the River Severn

Some scientists argue that global warming has passed the ‘tipping point’ and society should prepare for collapse, as a form of ‘ecological resilience’. Addressing these issues, this ecological artwork alludes to Rembrandt’s painting of ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ (1635), that depicts the ‘writing on the wall’ in the Book of Daniel.  The prophetic phenomenon foresaw the demise of the King, the split and the fall of Babylon, and was interpreted by Daniel alone.  This commonly used phrase generates the primary metaphor to consider the end of the Holocene epoch, society’s ineptitude and evolutionary perturbation caused by climate change.  If we are to address this culturally driven phenomenon, we must learn not to be afraid of complexity.

That’s very interesting. What sources of information do you utilize for your projects?

As an artist I work with ecologists, psychologists, microbiologists, bio-chemists, atmospheric climatologists, sociologists, anthropologists, ethnographers, architects, social and environmental activists, and even other artists. My main topics of reading are on complexity, ecology and systems thinking, as well as any specific issues I may encounter. But thankfully, everyday life, is my major source of information and inspiration.

How do you conceptualize Climate Change into poetic art forms?

Pharmaceutical Ecology

Erasmus Darwin (Charles’ grandfather) delivered scientific treaties in poetic forms.  The French Philosopher, Edgar Morin advocates poetry as the most appropriate form of language for communicating notions of complexity.  The Climate Change phenomenon affects us all and therefore demands that all disciplines participate in the discourse, perhaps as a transdisciplinary process.  Sometimes, the arts can not only communicate that which science cannot, but they may also shift the way we think. The acceleration of Climate Change is not about science, it is about our human behaviour, belief systems and values – these have always provided material for art.

What do you hope attendees will take away from your poetic performance?

I hope people will understand how essential it is to include all disciplines in addressing a topic that will affect all peoples.  Without this essential diversity, context is limited, epistemology is flawed and society will perpetuate its intuitive default path to collapse.

Before we can address this issue we need to understand complexity as a reality, not merely a threat to sustaining the status quo.

We hope you will join David and other ecological artists for the presentation of his bespoke poem during the “Ecological Art” Panel Session in the Martin E. Segal Theater on Thursday, March 10th from 4:00-5:00pm.

You won’t want to miss it!

Be sure to register to attend the Colloquium!

Behind the Scenes: Super Natural

During our Tenth Annual Colloquium on The Culture of Climate Change we are thrilled to be featuring on-going exhibitions including photographs and film installations for attendees to view at their convenience. Nina Young, an associate adjunct professor at New York City College of Technology in Digital Media/Visual Art, has created “Super Natural”, an installation that consists of both photographs and film that depicts the struggle between Nature and the Man-made environment. We were happy to catch up with Nina to learn more about “Super Natural”, which will be an on-going exhibition in the Martin E. Segal Theater and on the 6th Floor in the Sylvia Scribner Conference Room (room 6403.01).

Nina, what was the inspiration behind the creation of “Super Natural”?

Scotland Round

I’m very much inspired by Thomas Cole’s “Course of Empire” paintings where he depicts our different relationships with nature from it dominating us in the “Savage State”, to us dominating it in the “Consummation of Empire.” I wanted “Super Natural” to be a different story, where we no longer go through this cycle toward either extreme–where it is possible to live harmoniously with nature, yet be an advanced civilization.

Super Natural leaves room for an alternative ending–even though it does go through the same cycle of rise and fall of Nature and Mankind.  It starts with the ideal though–the balance.

How did you conceptualize or represent Climate Change into “Super Natural”?

I titled the piece “Super Natural” because my nature has the power to act or fight back rather quickly–it is a fast moving nature, rather unnatural. In that sense, I employ the fantastical. The buried car and the machinery in the aftermath of a tidal wave, I think, come close showing these signs of climate change. Ironically, I completed the work around the time of Hurricane Katrina and it reminded me that this fantasy of mine was not far off from reality.

What sources of information do you use for guidance on your project?


I read Leo Marx’s The Machine in the Garden, parts of Simon Schama’s Landscape and Memory, and many fairy tales for this project. Reading about how Arcadia or the pastoral was conceived of by writers and painters was important because I wanted to change or update the definition of the pastoral ideal.

Looking at how Caspar David Friedrich, JMW Turner and other painters of the Romantic era depicted nature was very important. My mentor, Nancy Goldring, also mentioned Watteau as a painter to refer to when picturing nature.



Wow, it appears there’s a lot to learn from your installation. What do you hope people gain from your “Super Natural” at this year’s Colloquium?

Super Natural is a meditation on how we live and at its root, an expression of hope for balance between mankind and the natural environment. I hope that people, first and foremost enjoy it, but also think about our relationship to the natural environment and question the meaning of the terms ‘nature’ and ‘civilization’.

Remember to check out Nina’s on-going exhibition anytime during the Colloquium in the Martin E. Segal Theater  and on the 6th floor in the Sylvia Scribner Conference Room (room 6403.01).

And be sure to register for the Colloquium!

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