Humanities for the Environment North American Observatory Update: Northeast Cluster

October 3, 2013

The Northeast Cluster of the Humanities for the Environment (HfE) project will convene a Council on the Uncertain Human Future  in three sessions over the course of 2014.  The core advisory board for the Cluster--Sarah BuieDiana Chapman WalshSusi Moser--has formed a trans-disciplinary group of distinguished scholars, scientists, writers, and artists to participate.  Together they will consider questions regarding the Uncertain Human Future, cultivate a collective capacity for this difficult exploration in an extended dialogue, and return to a larger public with insights, individual and shared.

The Northeast Cluster of the Humanities for the Environment (HfE) project is one of the collaborative projects incubated by CHCI member organizations and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  It is one of three U.S. clusters that form the HfE project’s North American Observatory and is based at Clark University’s Higgins School of Humanities.

The Council group of twelve includes environmental ethicist Kathleen Dean Moore, sociologist Mary Catherine Bateson, religion and environment scholar Mary-Evelyn Tucker, nature writer Gretel Ehrlich, conservationist Estella Leopold, and poet Jorie Graham, among others.  Council sessions will be held in February, May, and September of 2014, with an orientation dinner to be held in November 2013.  Each session will launch with a public event featuring an expert speaker in conversation with Council members; a full day of closed Council will follow.

The speaker for Council One (on climate science) will be Professor Daniel Schrag, Director of the Center for the Environment at Harvard University and a leading climate scientist.  He will speak on issues related to the "Twilight of the Anthropocene" in a public event at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.

Council Two (on the meaning of the science for humans) will launch with a talk by Maya Lin, architect and environmental artist, whose recent work on “What Is Missing?” focuses on issues of extinction. The public event will be held at the Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. on Thursday May 8, 2014. The speaker for Council Three (on visioning human futures) at Clark University on September 18, 2014 will be announced shortly.

Local councils may be created in collaboration with the project; this option will be available to the entire CHCI membership through online access to programming, topics and questions, a guide to the Council process, and consultations. The first local councils to be formed are at SUNY Stony Brook (E. Ann Kaplan), the University of Edinburgh (Pauline Phemister) and Clark University (Jennie Stephens). Please contact Sarah Buie (project PI) at if you are interested and want to learn more.