Fall Conference 2021: “This Mazéd World”
The Humanities and Climate Change
October 6 through October 23
Online and at various locations
“This Mazéd World:” The Humanities and Climate Change
As climate scientists warn of an escalating, and perhaps uncontrollable, catastrophe in the making and as Americans witness the intensity of climate disruption in western wildfires and eastern hurricanes, we need the humanities to help us make sense of our changing world, build resilience, and work to change the path we are on.
Our 48th annual Fall Conference began with four First Wednesdays talks related to the theme of climate change on Wednesday, October 6 and concluded with a week of virtual and in-person events held from October 18 to 22.
….the spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazéd world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which.
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension;
We are their parents and original.
Recorded Fall Conference Sessions
“The seasons alter, and…the mazéd world now knows not which is which!” In 2020 the Get Thee to the Funnery Shakespeare camp for teenagers studied Merchant of Venice to frame a discussion of prejudice and hate speech. And in 2021, the group discussed global warming and climate justice through Midsummer Night’s Dream. Funnery founder Peter Gould and a panel of informed, passionate, articulate, and wise campers describe their experience.
Lake Champlain is home to hundreds of well-preserved shipwrecks that help tell the story of our region. But climate change is altering the lake’s underwater cultural heritage. Susan Evans McClure and Christopher Sabick from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum consider the impact of historical objects changing before our eyes.
NPR national correspondent Eric Westervelt describes how mega fires, excessive heat and widening drought all underscore how climate change is fueling the routinization of extreme weather, with consequences for all of us.
Gleaning from classical mythology, UVM professor Adrian Ivakhiv suggests three paths for navigating climate-related trauma: those of Chronos (science), of Aion (arts and humanities), and of Kairos (action without guarantee).
Author Bill McKibben shares how the humanities can help us understand climate change, the greatest crisis we’ve ever found ourselves in. From the biblical book of Job to the latest science fiction, literature gives us clues to how we might shrink ourselves and our society a little.
Puerto Rican climate justice leader Elizabeth Yeampierre has helped pass climate legislation at all levels, including New York’s progressive Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. In this talk she describes how intergenerational BIPOC activists are changing the landscape of national climate priorities by speaking up for themselves and their neighborhoods.
In the United States, all power is derived from the people. While this sounds noble in theory, can we expect the American public to have the wits and self-control to meet the demands of climate change? Constitutional scholar Meg Mott explores the paradox of self-governance when the natural foundations of life itself are changing.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream illustration by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939). Act 2 scene 1, Titania and Oberon: “And now they never meet in grove or green, / By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen / But they do square”