From 2015-2019 Lenore Manderson convened Earth, Itself, an integrative program of the humanities, natural and social sciences, and creative arts, designed to further conversation about the environment in innovative, engaging and inclusive ways. The aim of the series is to highlight ways of understanding Earth, environmental change, knowledge systems and policy, to address some of the most complex problems of our time.
In 2018, the Earth, Itself program addressed the fourth element, Water, with events in April at Brown University and in September at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. By extending the program across the two continents, we took advantage of collaborations and addressed multiple questions of climate change and the environment. These included drought, flood, sea rise, and the precarity of seashore settlement and ocean states. The program also focused on water rights, water security, and riverine and marine life.
The arts programming at Brown was grounded in text, with emphasis on the spoken word and on multimedia presentations. Co-organized with Forrest Gander, Writing on Water included poets Arthur Sze, Brenda Hillman, and Cole Swensen, with creative non-fiction writers Elizabeth Rush, Jennifer Galvin, Zoe Nyssa, Akiko Busch and Angela Burnett. As in previous years, Earth, Itself included a film program, and a poster and flash lecture competition.
This program is an activity of The Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (IBES), an interfaculty initiative at Brown University. The Institute is concerned centrally with the challenges facing us in ensuring sustainable life, and so aims to stimulate conversations across the natural and social sciences, humanities and the arts.