28 October 2013

Links between the humanities and complex environmental issues such as climate change and species extinction will be explored when the University of Queensland hosts the Australian Academy of the Humanities’ 44th Annual Symposium next month.

Presented by UQ’s Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies and the Centre for the History of European Discourses, the Symposium will explore ‘What is the nature of nature?’

Professor Lesley Johnson AM, President of the Academy, said: “The event will demonstrate the vital contribution of the humanities to developing responses to local and global environmental challenges.”

The Symposium will be co-convened by two Fellows of the Academy, UQ Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies Director and Professional Research Fellow, Professor Gay Hawkins, and Centre for the History of European Discourses Director, Professor Peter Harrison.

“The program builds on the long history of humanities scholarship across many disciplines,” Professor Hawkins said.

“It debates the ways in which the humanities can lay claim to offering significant knowledge about the promiscuous and elusive concept of nature and highlights some innovative work on environmental history.”

Topics covered include the changing conceptions of nature, creation and the environment in Western thought; the commercialisation of nature; nature on the screen; and the parallels between how artists and scientists make different natural processes visible.

Speakers will include leading environmental historian Professor Jane Carruthers, artist Janet Laurence and Professor Iain McCalman.

Professor McCalman’s research and publications have informed a range of documentaries and TV series, including BBC2’s The Ship. His latest book is The Reef – A Passionate History (Penguin Australia).

The event, on 14 and 15 November, features 14 speakers and panelists. The University of New South Wales’ Dr Thom van Dooren will present the Academy’s 2013 Keith Hancock Lecture, free to the public, on “Life at the Edge of Extinction” on Friday 15 November.


The Australian Academy of the Humanities 44th Annual Symposium
Environmental Humanities: The Question of Nature

WHEN: 14-15 November 2013

PROGRAM: www.humanities.org.au/Events/AnnualSymposium#Programme

WHERE: The University of Queensland
St Lucia, QLD, 4072

Media: Convener Professor Gay Hawkins, g.hawkins@uq.edu.au, or (07) 3346 7416; Australian Academy of Humanities Executive Director Dr Christina Parolin (02) 6125 9860.