The Nature of Change
Life has existed on Earth for at least 3.5 billion years, and in 2019 humans stand firmly at the top of what used to be a more natural order. We may have achieved remarkable societal evolution, but we’ve done so at great cost to our ecology and climate. Now facing rising seas, melting glaciers, and disappearing species and ecosystems, humans have choices to make about the future of the planet.
While there is no easy path forward, proponents of change assert that humans must first reconsider our belief that there is a division between us and nature if we’re to achieve a more sustainable future. Three CLA professors share their forward-looking work in the context of two questions: What is our relationship to nature? And how do we make sense of our connection to the physical world as we face the challenges of our changing Earth?
Kurt Kipfmueller, associate professor of geography, environment, and society, has dedicated years to studying wildfire ecology. His research examines the complexity of humans’ relationship to nature, and uncovers possibilities for maintaining resilient forests.
“Humans have long viewed themselves as more special than anything else, and that impedes our ability to think critically about the environment,” says Christine Marran. Marran is the chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and a professor of Japanese literature and cultural studies.
Associate Professor David Valentine is a cultural and linguistic anthropologist who researches commercial space settlement movement. Valentine believes that studying outer space can help shed light on possible ways of approaching the current climate change crisis.