Through these events and initiatives, The Commons presents creative, scholarly, exploratory, and investigative ideas that highlight reciprocal ways of knowing. Through a nontraditional worldview, this series aims to combine forms of knowledge (traditional, scientific, technical, creative, visual, narrative, etc.) In this series, The Commons and collaborative partners will explore known and possible ways to understand the role humans play as individuals and as a species, challenge us to consider new and more perspectives, and listen for voices we are less attuned to hearing.
Questions for exploration include:
- What can we learn from nonhuman teachers?
- How do humans communicate urgency, and what role does fear play?
- How do humans listen to other species in a critical moment?
- Are there synchronicities shared across species, related to survival and adaptation?
- What is the role of social justice in climate justice?
- How might humans consider the teachings of previously extinguished ecosystems?
- What does decreasing biodiversity mean for humans and for other species?
- What can nonhuman species teach us about community?
Hosted by The Commons, the Environmental Studies Program, and the KU Departments of African and African-American Studies, English, Geography and Atmospheric Science, and Geology, the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity, the Global Grasslands CoLAB, the KU Sawyer Seminar, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Global Awareness Program, the Health Humanities and Arts Research Collaborative, and the University Honors Program.
Favianna Rodriguez is an interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and social justice activist based in Oakland, California. Her art and praxis address migration, gender justice, climate change, racial equity, and sexual freedom. Her practice boldly reshapes the myths, stories, and cultural practices of the present, while healing from the wounds of the past through visual art, public art, writing, cultural organizing and power building. She leads meaningful collaborations with social movements that lead to resilient and transformative cultural strategies. In addition to her expansive studio practice, she is the co-founder and president of The Center for Cultural Power, a national organization igniting change at the intersection of art, culture and social justice. Rodriguez’s contribution to All We Can Save is titled “Harnessing Cultural Power.”
Rodriguez will give a presentation, after which she will be in conversation with artist and KU PhD Candidate in American Studies Imani A. Wadud.
Climate change is often discussed in scientific terms, but the work of responding to the urgency of climate change requires many voices. The realms of social, creative, activist, spiritual, food production, and many others, play critical roles in the larger conversation. As well, we know that climate change disproportionately affects certain populations. We present this series to showcase the works of leaders included in All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson.
Supported by the Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture Fund.
Writer, professor, scientist, and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer is well known for her 2015 book, "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants." She is an SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, whose mission is to create programs that draw on the wisdom of indigenous and scientific knowledge to offer lessons for humanity. Kimmerer’s first book, "Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses," was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing.
Through her work, Kimmerer observes the natural world closely, exploring systems and communities across species, and sharing knowledge that reveals kinship across species.
Kimmerer holds a bachelor's degree in botany from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, a master's degree and doctorate in botany from the University of Wisconsin and is the author of numerous scientific papers on plant ecology, bryophyte ecology, traditional knowledge and restoration ecology. She lives in upstate New York, tending gardens both cultivated and wild.
The Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture is hosted by The Commons annually to invite leading thinkers, whose work applies across disciplines, to address the University of Kansas and regional communities. In recent years, the lecture series has featured architectural biologist Jessica Green, comedian Andy Borowitz, writer/activist Margaret Atwood, writer/historian Rebecca Solnit, poet/scholar/artist Eve Ewing, activist/writer Jose Antonio Vargas, and author/illustrator/screenwriter Jonny Sun.
Poster design by Alex McGettrick.