July 27, 2015

A group of PCC and ESR students spoke on a panel in June at the annual Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences conference in San Diego. The conference theme this year was Confronting Frontiers, Borders, and Boundaries, a perfect topic for introducing some PCC ideas into the broader scientific community. The PCC panel addressed issues surrounding the term ‘anthropocene', and the implications of adopting this term to describe the current geological epoch. The term, while pointing to the significant influence of human activity in the world, has been criticized as anthropocentric and an extension of the logic that has led to the ecological devastation of the planet. Students approached the topic from a variety of directions including poststructural and feminist critique, imaginal ecology, psychoanalysis, and archetypal art practice.

A full description of the PCC panel can be found below:

"Modern humans are the ultimate frontier species. Through the control and manipulation of nature, humans have pushed through the boundaries of competitive evolutionary constraints and redefined the very terms of how and where borders are formed amongst all of the biota of the Earth. The manipulation of natural ecosystem boundaries has allowed humans to flourish, however it has also led to the spread of invasive plants and animals, melting of the polar ice caps, rising seas, ocean acidification and dead zones, deforestation, freshwater depletion, desertification, over-fishing and overconsumption of natural resources and global warming. The disregard of ecological boundaries is not only causing one of the largest extinction events in Earth's history but also raising important questions as to how humans will continue to thrive.

"Each paper in this panel explores the role of boundaries in creating an integral ecology - a sustainable human/Earth community. What implications does the term "Anthropocene" have for the future of this planet? Could it lead to an erasure of difference (ecological and cultural) or act as a symbol that signals the end of a diverse planetary system? Will the term reinforce the hubris of the human race and continued ecological destruction? What responsibilities and opportunities do humans have to imagine a different world - a mutually enhancing human/Earth relationship - and are there perhaps more appropriate terms to symbolize this transition?"

Read more about the AESS conference here.

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