A New Earth Conversation: The World Is Changing; We Should Be, Too

A New Earth Conversation is a campus-wide initiative that, in exploring our relationship with the climate crisis, seeks to cultivate positive change through our response to climate change. Bringing together various Clark faculty from different departments including English, IDCE, Geography, the program is interdisciplinary, built on the premise that in order to make substantive change, we need everyone. According to Professor Stephen Levin, the program “cultivates a space for engaging with a crisis that implicates all of us, the work we do on campus across the disciplines, and the very notions of education and citizenship; it affirms for us that our security is contingent on connections to others (whether we know them or not).”

From the website:  

“What if students, on their first day of college, found a campus brimming with the palpable excitement of teams (of students, faculty and staff) exploring, acknowledging and working together to address the slow violence of environmental destruction and climate change? To vision and build a just world, one in both human lives and the natural world are valued? What if those students could work, socialize, and reside together in spaces of reflection, inquiry and action?

In this scenario, the University is a hatchery of ideas grown out of reflection, discernment and practice, incorporated into making new knowledge and thoughtful action. It cultivates planetary citizens. It is A new Earth conversation.”


What does this mean for Clark students?

1. Look out for courses collaborating with the program. Since the program’s launch, Clark has offered a number of courses collaborating with A New Earth Conversation, including some from the English Department. Last fall, Professor Levin taught a course called “Ecologies in Crisis: View from the Humanities,” which explores the concept of ‘ecology’ in a cross-cultural perspective, with consideration to “literary responses to climate change in different cultural and political contexts.” This course was a pilot ‘collaborative’ for Clark’s program in New Earth conversations. According to Professor Levin, the course “is framed by questions that emanate decidedly from the humanities: what narratives have made climate change possible, and what role might narrative play in our responses to crisis; what ecological models inform our ways of being in the world and what models are at the limits of our imaginations?; how are notions of the self— and of the human — refashioned when the future is so precarious?” Professor Levin will be offering his course again, either for Spring 2020 or Spring 2021.


2. Keep an eye out for a newsletter in the works. Soon, the initiative will have a space on campus. Feel free to contact Stephen Levin or Ellen Foley for any questions. Also, check out their list of resources on their website.


3. Consider engaging in events that offer dialogue between distinguished lecturers and faculty and students. This spring, the program is hosting numerous events, including:


Cohabiting with the devil  

Extractive industries, climate change and the struggle to live well

A conversation with Tony Bebbington, Denise Humphreys Bebbington, John Rogan and Laura Sauls

How do people cohabit with extractive industries, especially in Latin America and Indonesia? We will discuss the pressures that resource extraction is placing on forests and community rights as well as some of the ways in which community and elite groups have mobilized around these issues. This conversation with Tony, Denise, John and Laura will focus on their recent research and how their findings are pushing our understanding of the relationships between resource extraction, infrastructure, forest loss and the politics of rights-based socio-environmental change.

Tony Bebbington is the Higgins Professor of Environment and Society in the GSG, Denise Humphreys Bebbington is Associate Research Professor in IDCE, John Rogan is Professor of Geography, and Laura Sauls is a graduate student in Geography.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20 at 4:30 pm | Fireside Lounge, Dana Commons


On Infertile Ground

Population Control and Women’s Rights in the Era of Climate Change

In On Infertile Ground, Jade Sasser, Assistant Professor, University of California, Riverside, explores how a small network of international development actors, including private donors, NGO program managers, scientists, and youth advocates, is bringing population back to the center of public environmental debate.

TUESDAY, MARCH 26 at 4:30 pm | Higgins Lounge

Tim DeChristopher and Terry Tempest Williams in conversation

How we live now with what we know

Climate activist and NEC Visiting Fellow Tim DeChristopher and renowned writer, conservationist and activist Terry Tempest Williams will ask how we live with what we know about the climate crisis, and open the conversation to the audience as well.

THURSDAY, MARCH 28 at 7 pm | Tilton Hall


Listening in Nature Launch

A distinctive aspect of the NEC, the Listening in Nature program offers a range of experiential opportunities and resources to further our awareness of and connection to the living planet of which we are part. On this launch day, the community is invited to seek out one or more of a wide range of activities taking place through the day and evening around the campus. A full schedule will be available before the event.

WEDNESDAY APRIL 17, all day | all around campus


Evening of Council

The students of the NEC Council Collaborative will lead an Evening of Council around questions of climate change and our responses to it. Participation is by invitation, but please reach out to Ellen Foley if you are interested in joining.

Date TBD | Dana Commons (Higgins Lounge, Atrium, and more)

While some of these have already passed, keep an eye out for future events!