[UPDATED] -- Breaking Down the Walls: New Directions in Environmental Thinking for the Anthropocene

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
ASLE: Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment
contact email: 

This panel invites interdisciplinary thinkers to transcend standardized methodologies for teaching and learning about the environment.  The ASLE Biennial Conference (themed 'Paradise on Fire') will be held at University of California, Davis, from June 26-30, 2019.

Paradise is burning - or melting, flooding, or otherwise collapsing.  In actuality, these collapses are simultaneous, or convergent as Christian Parenti has termed it.  Or, as a recent article states, "when the Arctic melts, the West burns."

However imminent the collapse of paradise may be, systemic efforts are underway to forestall the inevitable and sustain its fleeting vestiges.  The security and defense branches of numerous governments acknowledge climate change as a threat to both economic and national security.  Beyond this, even the notion of paradise is being defended.  If "paradise" is, in some sense, a world in which we can 'have our cake and eat it, too', then this would seem the goal of sustainability, promises of a kind of techno-utopia, and most mass-marketing through which trans-national corporations advertise seductively and we consume willingly.  The underlying idea is simple enough: if we can fix the world - or feel less guilty about breaking it - then we can (more or less) enjoy business as usual.  Paradise, in this sense, is a salve for the psyche - one that absolves us of responsibility - ensuring that we don't feel bad even as things get worse.

Despite the existential nature of the problem, many are hard at work fighting the more deleterious elements of the system.  However, the systems that are rendering damage do so through various means of exploitation - and operate in ways that are intricately interconnected.  Countering such systems first requires that we recognize these crucial interconnecting elements, and doing this requires that we move beyond traditional compartmentalized thinking ourselves - as instructors, students, and citizens.  Taking as its inspiration Paulo Freire's notions of interdisciplinary thinking and eco-pedagogy, this panel seeks to serve as a check on standardized thinking by actively defying it.  Can we collaborate with colleagues across - and beyond - the humanities to perforate traditional disciplinary thinking?  Can students find new pathways to discovery while remaining hopeful that the world may not be beyond repair?  This panel invites innovative thinking (tested or not) in the realm of critical pedagogy, with special attention to new methods of teaching about the environment across the disciplines.


If you wish to submit a paper proposal, please use the link below. Feel free to direct any questions to the panel organizer, Ron Milland, at ron2154@gmail.com.