Oregon State University

A “Thinking Community”

In A Sand County Almanac, conservationist Aldo Leopold wrote, “Nothing so important as a land ethic is ever written. It evolves in the mind of a thinking community.” We invite you to be part of one such thinking community on Sunday, October 2 from 1:00 to 4:00 (please see below for registration information). The gathering is sponsored by Oregon Humanities, Oregon State University’s Environmental Humanities Initiative, and the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word. It is part of a larger project we call, “The Eye of the Storm: Re-imagining Ethics for Changing Times.”

Our premise is that old, human-centered moral systems have allowed us to damage the Earth, to our own peril and the peril of countless ecosystems and species. This cannot continue. We must find new ways to understand our moral responsibilities to one another, to the Earth, and to the future. Can these perilous times prompt us to discover and create a new set of ideas about how we ought to live?

We’ll gather some of the brightest, most dedicated minds for an afternoon of communal brainstorming to jumpstart the evolution of these new ethics. This gathering will convene two groups: a hundred local leaders, thinkers, activists, and concerned citizens together with a group of twenty of the nation’s leading moral thinkers, who will have spent the preceding two days thinking about these new ethics. (See the list of those participants below.) We will hear some of that group’s insights, then form into smaller groups to ground-truth their ideas and generate additional ideas through discussion and questioning.

We’ll focus on discovering solutions and strategies, creating collaborations and partnerships, and stimulating reflection and purpose.  As Program Manager for the Environmental Humanities Initiative, Carly Lettero, points out, “our hope is that participants will return to their respective communities with new ideas and new collaborations that will help them work toward solutions to some of our most pressing environmental issues.”

We invite you to be part of this thinking community on October 2nd by registering online (click here to register). The event is open to the public, but registration is limited. We will provide catered snacks and beverages, and we will help arrange carpooling to the Clubhouse at Adair Village. 

Just as the evolution of species requires lots of variety, lots of new ways of living, all tested against hard experience, so the evolution of ideas calls for the same wild diversity of ideas and the same time-tested wisdom. This is what we want to create in this thinking community, when the times call for the greatest exercise of the moral imagination the world has ever seen.


Confirmed Participants:

J. Baird Callicott, philosophy, University of North Texas

Courtney Campbell, religious studies, Oregon State University

Madeline Cantwell, Managing Director, Orion magazine

Robin Morris Collin, sustainability law, Willamette University

Alison Hawthorne Deming, poet and essayist, Science and Other Poems

Kristie Dotson, philosophy, Michigan State University/Oregon State University

Charles Goodrich, poet, Program Director, Spring Creek Project

Patricia Hasbach, clinical psychotherapist, co-editor, Ecopsychology

Jennifer Michael Hecht, author, The Happiness Myth

Robin Kimmerer, botany, author, Gathering Moss

Barry Lopez, author, Arctic Dreams

Katie McShane, philosophy, Colorado State University

Kathleen Dean Moore, philosopher, writer, Director, Spring Creek Project

Nalini Nadkarni, ecology, University of Utah

Michael P. Nelson, philosophy, Michigan State, co-editor, Moral Ground

Matt Nisbet, climate communications, George Mason University

Harmony Paulsen, graduate student, Water Policy and Management, Spring Creek Intern

Devon Pena, anthropology and Chicano Studies, University of Washington

Kim Stanley Robinson, author, Mars Trilogy

Fred Swanson, forest ecologist, USFS, co-director, Long-Term Ecological Reflections

Libby Roderick, singer and songwriter, How Can Anyone?, University of Alaska

Bron Taylor, religious studies, University of Florida

Allen Thompson, philosophy, co-editor, The Virtues of the Future

Kyle Powys Whyte, philosophy, Michigan State University/Oregon State University

Gretel van Wieren, religious studies and ecology, Michigan State University

Priscilla Ybarra, Latino/a Literature, University of North Texas

Jan Zwicky, philosophy and poet, Songs for Relinquishing the Earth


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