Oceans and Deserts Charting Transdisciplinary Currents in Environment and Culture within the Arts and Sciences (2/28/14-3/1/14)

full name / name of organization: 
James F. Howell / University of Arizona

Oceans and Deserts
Charting Transdisciplinary Currents in Environment and Culture within the Arts and Sciences

A Symposium Hosted by the Transcultural German Studies Ph.D. Program
German Studies Department
The University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
February 28th - March 1st, 2014

Keynote Speakers:

Dr. Everett Shock, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Arizona State University
Dr. Conevery Valencius, Department of History, University of Massachusetts Boston

The question of how the environment affects culture and how culture, in turn, affects the environment is far too broad and nuanced to be answered by any one field or substrate of human knowledge. Only by bringing manifold fields and disciplines into dialog can the complex and ecological relationships between environment and culture be satisfactorily approached. For too long the arts and the sciences have sought to identify the nature of these relationships independently of one another, and even when the essays to apply interdisciplinary solutions have been made, these almost entirely call upon the insights of scholars and scholarship in fields belonging exclusively either to the arts or to the sciences. This innovative transdisciplinary symposium attempts to bridge the oftentimes unnecessary, and in many ways illusory, divide separating artistic and scientific modes of inquiry. Differences and divergences do indeed exist among these paradigms and approaches, but these are exactly the perspectives which should be brought into communication with one another in an inclusive discourse.

Oceans and deserts were chosen to entitle this symposium, as these environments seem to best illustrate the isolation and interconnection that lie at the heart of this transdisciplinary endeavor. Much like the fields which we inhabit, oceans and deserts symbolize and embody means through which the human and natural worlds separate and connect themselves, serving simultaneously as barriers and sites of intercourse. Biomes and the human cultures which exist on and in them are also simultaneously distinct from, and dependent on one another, an ecological truth which challenges current scholarship to reevaluate the indigenity and authochthony of its own subdivisions as well as the subjects of its research.

We would like, therefore, to invite faculty and graduate students from all fields of inquiry to share their thoughts and research concerning the infinitely diverse and ever-changing relationships among cultures and environments. We wish to restrict this transdisciplinary exchange as little as possible, and we hope to this end that the response and audience are as diverse as the subject matter. We also do not wish to place any temporal or geographical constraints on the discussion, realizing that all cultures and environments at all times are integral to the constitution of the natural, human world.

We would only ask that while preparing their twenty-minute presentations, the participants transmit their research and insights in a way intelligible to scholars of any field.

An abstract of 250-300 words and a CV should be submitted to James F. Howell (jfhowell@email.arizona.edu) by November 15th, 2013.

Possible Topic Areas:
- Administration & Policy
- Agriculture & Nutrition
- Anthropocentrism & Biocentrism
- Borders & Frontiers
- Climate Change
- Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
- Communities of Faith
- Ecocriticism
- Environmental Awareness
- Globalization
- Health & Medicine
- Identity
- Imperialism
- Industrialization
- International Relations
- Material Culture
- Medial Discourses
- Migration
- Nationalism & Transnationalism
- Resource Management
- Transculturalism
- Translingualism

Possible Fields of Study (from which these topics could come):
- Anthropology
- Area Studies
- Biological, Physical, & Earth Sciences
- Cultural Studies
- Engineering
- Environmental Studies
- Fine Arts
- Gender Studies
- Geography
- Humanities
- Philosophy
- Social and Behavioral Sciences