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Climate Conversations

The climate and landscapes are shifting in Arizona and around the globe. When does the environment begin to intersect with the human experience? Why are the humanities important to environmental issues? Join us for a series of conversations with scholars and community leaders exploring our environment through the lens of literature, history, art, climate justice, and much more.


Register for Upcoming Events!

State of Water: Looking Toward an Uncertain Future with Joanna Allhands
Dec. 9, 4:00 PM AZ Time (virtual)

Does Arizona have enough water? How concerned should we be about the state’s dwindling water supply? In this 60-minute session, we’ll discuss where our water comes from, what’s threatening those supplies, and what you and the wider state can do to prepare for a hotter, drier future. Water policy is complex, but the goal is to break down the basics into understandable bites – and perhaps dispel a few myths along the way.


Joanna Allhands is digital opinions editor for The Arizona Republic, responsible for AZCentral’s online opinions content. She also writes opinions about water, education, and COVID-19 policy. Allhands has been with The Arizona Republic since 2004.

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Hippie Modernism: Literature, Counterculture, and Transforming Our Natural World with Dr. Gioia Woods
Feb. 10, 2022, 6:00 PM AZ Time (virtual and in-person)

A dramatic surge in human activity, known as the Great Acceleration, transformed our natural world beginning in the mid-twentieth century. People’s relationship with the planet fundamentally shifted. Around this time in the United States in the late 1960s and into the 1970s, literature, literary production, and literary consumption became keenly attuned to ecological consciousness. Two significant, intersecting concerns informed this trend: the social dissonance and environmental destruction created by consumer capitalism, and the changing ideas around individual consciousness. Join us as Dr. Gioia Woods explores the environmental and cultural shifts that informed this new ecological consciousness and look at the ways literature of the era came to embody these changing values.


Gioia Woods is professor of Humanities, president’s distinguished teaching fellow, and chair of the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies at Northern Arizona University. Dr. Woods’s teaching and research in the environmental humanities focuses on the ways in which humans understand and construct relationships with the non-human natural world. A recent Fulbright Teaching Fellow trained in American literature, Dr. Woods is the author of articles on environmental literature, American literature of dissent, and literature of the American West.

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Register Here to Attend In-Person

Considering Climate Equity: Stories of Extreme Heat in Our Cities with Dr. Melissa Guardaro
Mar. 2, 2022, 6:00 PM AZ Time (virtual and in-person)

Heat in Arizona has long impacted the way people across the state live, work, and build their communities. Perhaps one of the most noticeable effects of climate change that we feel today is the sharply rising temperature in our cities. Climate change affects everyone, but not always in equal measure. Some neighborhoods experience urban heat differently from others. What is the difference and why does it happen? Which communities are most at risk? What can we do to reduce the effects of urban heat? Join us for an interactive discussion about climate equity, urban heat, and potential solutions, told through the stories of our communities with Dr. Melissa Guardaro.


Melissa Guardaro is Assistant Research Professor in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on adaptability, equity, vulnerability, and urban policy to mitigate and adapt to extreme heat and urban heat island effects. She has partnered with The Nature Conservancy, the Maricopa County Health Department, and community-based organizations to create neighborhood heat solutions that improve public health. In her work, Dr. Guardaro weaves together storytelling and human experiences with data-driven research. The people that live and work in urban heat zones are an important part of the conversation about community-based solutions and public health.

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Register Here to Attend In-Person

Stay tuned for future events!

Check back as we update program information and registration

Art, the Environment, and Community

Apr. 6, 2022  6:00pm

Join us for a conversation with April Bojorquez and Matt Garcia, founders of Desert ArtLab.

Watch Past Events Now! 

Bridging Law and Our Natural Resources, Yesterday and Today with Dr. Michael Brescia

Water is one of the most valuable and contested natural resources in the American West. Communities have been fighting for access to scarce water sources for quite some time. How are water rights determined in areas that were once part of Spain and Mexico? Why are these old laws, customs, and usages still in effect and still practiced throughout the Southwest? Disputes over natural resources require navigating both thorny historical and legal issues. Spanish colonialism and U.S. expansionism have played defining roles in shaping debates over access and control of natural resources, from water to land to minerals. Join us as historian Dr. Michael Brescia unpacks the complex historical and contemporary issues regarding water rights and policy with multiple historical threads.


Michael Brescia is Curator of Ethnohistory at the Arizona State Museum and affiliated Professor of History and Law at the University of Arizona. His research and numerous publications focus on the history of the transnational Southwest and the living legacies of Spanish and Mexican natural resource law and water rights. As a scholar working at the intersection of history, law, and the environment, he has served as an expert witness in water rights cases in Arizona and New Mexico. Dr. Brescia is an award-winning teacher, advocate for the public humanities, and the 2021 recipient of the Dan Shilling Humanities Public Scholar Award from Arizona Humanities.

The Humanities, the Arts, and the Climate Crisis with Sir Jonathan Bate

We think of science and public policy as the only ways to fight the climate crisis, but the humanities and the arts are vital too. They give us the narratives and the emotional engagement that we need to address the environmental challenges facing our planet and our way of life. Internationally acclaimed Shakespearean scholar and eco-critic Sir Jonathan Bate will offer a wide-ranging introduction to past and present “green thinking” in literature, film and art, history, philosophy, and religion. Join us for this keynote event followed by Q&A with the audience, as we launch our new program series, Climate Conversations.

Jonathan Bate is Foundation Professor of Environmental Humanities at Arizona State University and a Senior Research Fellow in English Literature at Oxford University, where he was formerly Provost of Worcester College. The author of twenty books, he is a world-renowned expert on Shakespeare, the Romantic movement and ecological approaches to the arts and humanities. He was knighted by the Queen for his services to literary scholarship.
Atascosa Borderlands Revisited (II): A Shifting Landscape Along the US-Mexico Border

Along a remote stretch of the US-Mexico border lies the mountainous terrain of the Atascosa Highlands in the Coronado National Forest. Abundant in biological diversity, the Atascosa Highlands are home to numerous species of flora and fauna. When documentary photographer Luke Swenson and ecologist and writer Jack Dash embarked on a botanical survey of the area in 2017, they found that the rugged landscape was defined not only by its rich ecology but also profoundly shaped by human activity. They developed a transdisciplinary storytelling project, Atascosa Borderlands, to document the complex natural and cultural history of the region. Their work is layered with original film photographs, oral history interviews, found artifacts, floral specimens, and more, creating a textured record of an environment undergoing dynamic transformation from human migration to border wall construction to climate change. Join Luke and Jack for a conversation about the evolution of their project, from its beginnings to future explorations as they prepare to return to the Atascosa Highlands.

Atascosa Borderlands (I): Social Ecology along the US-Mexico Border

The Atascosa Highlands are an area of unmatched biological and cultural diversity, located along a rugged stretch of the US-Mexico border. Over the last three years, ecologist Jack Dash and photographer Luke Swenson have been pursuing an intensive study of the area, designated by the Coronado National Forest Service as the Tumacacori Ecosystem Management Area. Their visual storytelling project, An Annotated Flora of the Atascosa Highlands documents the environmental, political, and cultural forces shaping this unique landscape. Combining social ecology, documentary photography and oral history interviews, their work confronts the diverse, and oftentimes competing perspectives of the region. 


Luke Swenson is a film-based documentary photographer and visual storyteller based in Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate of Pratt Institute’s BFA Photography program in Brooklyn, New York.

Jack Dash is an ecologist and writer based in Tucson, Arizona. He is vice president of the Arizona Native Plant Society in Tucson and works for the non-profit native plant nursery Desert Survivors.