Organized Oral Session
We are faced with global challenges that are complex and interdisciplinary in nature. While scientific solutions may exist, most environmental challenges are at their core human issues. Thus, scientific knowledge must be communicated clearly, but it must also be contextualized to resonate with emotions, values, and personal narratives. As ESA and CSEE recognize, a change is going to come. We need to build a new perspective in ecology that is inherently interdisciplinary, holistic, and recognizes cultural and human context. One of the most effective ways for the ecological community to build context, and begin thinking in new and different ways, is through imagination and narrative. Language, through artistic invention, can empower people to understand mistakes of the past and to imagine better futures.
Each proposed speaker is a critically acclaimed author whose work flourishes at the intersection of science and art, shaping the narrative around humanity’s relationship to the environment and the future of ecology. Madhur Anand, an acclaimed scientist as well as an award-winning author, brings a scientific perspective to the framework of creative narrative and poetry, exploring the depths of human-environment interactions at every scale. Catherine Bush, one of Canada’s foremost writers, uses storytelling and non-fiction to envision and explore society’s impacts on our planet, and to practically imagine the possibilities of the future. Adam Dickinson uses ecocritical perspective to examine the impacts of plastic pollution, to explore a humanistic take on microbial ecology, and uses poetry to define ‘environment’ in new ways. Jan Conn, both geneticist and poet, interweaves evolutionary biology and genetics, research, and the capacity of the arts to reveal deep understanding of the natural world. Philosopher Karen Houle’s poetry uses the poetic and scientific together to investigate landscape ecology and natural history. Stephen Heard uses creative writing to bring attention to the creative and deeply human nature of taxonomy, and by extension, to all of science.
If change is truly to come, it must involve a change in action, but also a change in vision. The questions our speakers seek to answer are essential to the development of a holistic ecology. This is the basis of our proposed symposium: to explore human relationship to the natural world, to voice knowledge (both scientific and beyond), and to share understandings in a new way, seeking to evoke change through the beauty and power of the written word.
Presenting Author: Madhur Anand – University of Guelph
Presenting Author: Catherine Bush – University of Guelph
Presenting Author: Karen Houle – University of Guelph
Presenting Author: Jan Conn – University at Albany
Presenting Author: Adam Dickinson, PhD – Brock University
Co-author: Adam Dickinson, PhD – Brock University
Presenting Author: Stephen Heard – University of New Brunswick