Tom Crist and Peggy Shaffer, Altman Fellows


In 2000, the Nobel Laureate chemist Paul Crutzen coined the term “Anthropocene” to mark the emergence of a new geologic epoch in which humans have become the most “globally potent biogeophysical force” on the planet. “Anthropocene,” Crutzen explains, “suggests that the Earth has now left its natural geological epoch, the present interglacial state called the Holocene. Human activities have become so pervasive and profound that they rival the great forces of Nature and are pushing the Earth into planetary terra incognita.” If this global transformation signals a paradigm shift in the sciences, it also demands the critical attention of the humanities—for it touches every aspect of human life on earth and its possible futures. 

The 2014–15 Altman Program invites faculty, students, alumni, and community members to join a remarkable collaboration of faculty fellows and distinguished visitors to explore the pressing environmental issues of our age. Can the idea of the Anthropocene transform the way we relate to, use, and value the planet? Could it reframe longstanding distinctions between human history and natural history? How do social institutions, cultural practices, and cultural forms—including images, narratives, and media more generally—affect environmental processes? How can history, cultural criticism, philosophy, and political ecology address planetary challenges? And finally, how does the Anthropocene empower us to build bridges between the humanities and the sciences to imagine a sustainable future for the Earth? 

Download the 2014-15 Altman Program Calendar

Andrew Revkin
Science writer, journalist, and author of the New York Times’ Dot Earth blog
“Seeking a Good Path in the Anthropocene”
Monday, September 15, 5 PM
Armstrong Student Center – Wilks Theater

Claire Kremen
Professor, Department of Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley
“Fixing a Broken Food System:  Some Ideas”
Wednesday, September 24, 7 PM
Pearson 128

Julian Agyeman
Professor, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University
“Just Sustainabilities: Re-imagining E/quality, Living within Limits”
Thursday, October 2, 4 PM
MacMillan Hall Great Room

Leonardo E. Figueroa-Helland
Assistant Professor of Political Science at Westminster College
“Indigeneity vs. ‘Civilization’: Indigenous Alternatives to the Anthropocene Eco-Crisis
Thursday, October 30, at 5 PM
MacMillan Hall Great Room

Daniel Lord Smail
Professor of History at Harvard University
“Humans and Things in Deep Time”
Thursday, November 13, 4 PM
MacMillan Hall Great Room

Wes Jackson
Founder and President of The Land Institute
“Solving the 10,000 Year-Old Problem of Agriculture: A Progress Report”
Wednesday, February 11, 4 PM
 John E. Dolibois Room, Shriver Center

Janisse Ray
Author, naturalist, and environmental activist
“Being Human in Wild Times”
Tuesday, February 17, 4 PM
MacMillan Hall Great Room

Dale Jamieson
Professor, Environmental Studies and Philosophy at New York University
“Why the Struggle to Stop Climate Change Failed and What It Means for Our Future”
Monday, March 16, 4 PM
Dolibois Room, Shriver Center

Bill McKibben
Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College
“The Education of an Unlikely Activist”
Wednesday, April 8, 7 PM
Hall Auditorium

The 2014-15 Altman Program Conference: Interrogating the Anthropocene
Thursday, April 9 – Friday, April 10
MacMillan Hall Great Room
Keynote Lectures:
Gregg Mitman
Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History of Science, Medical History, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
“Humility or Hubris?  Genealogies of the Anthropocene”
Stephanie LeMenager
Moore Endowed Professor of English at the University of Oregon
“Sediment: Thinking with Oil in the Anthropocene”
Karl Zimmerer
Professor of Geography at Pennsylvania State University
“Rethinking the Anthropocene: Ideas of Sustainability in Emergent Networks across Tropical Mountains and Global Urban Centers”
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