Online Event – Ecological Grief: Loss, Mourning, and Imagining Alternative Futures – Zoe Todd and Madhusudan Katti

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Ecological Grief: Loss, Mourning, and Imagining Alternative Futures – Zoe Todd and Madhusudan Katti

Thursday, June 2, 2022 – 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM Central

Hosted by Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities

Ecological Grief: Loss, Mourning, & Imagining Alternative Futures


In a 2018 article in Nature Climate Change, Ashlee Consulo and Neville Ellis used the term “ecological grief” to describe “the grief felt in relation to experienced or anticipated ecological losses, including the loss of species, ecosystems, and meaningful landscapes due to acute or chronic environmental change.” As communities the world over endure one crisis after another, that such grief can be experienced at both individual and collective levels is hardly surprising, and it serves as a stark reminder that environmental change is not a future or distant issue; rather, it is here and now, and often deeply personal. In the face of the very real losses that we will continue to face, how do we acknowledge this grief, while also avoiding a sense of cynicism or resignation to an ecological dystopia?

In this event, reconciliation ecologist Dr. Madhusudan Katti and critical Indigenous studies scholar-artist Dr. Zoe Todd will discuss how we might respond to ecological grief in ways that work towards alternative futures that embody a more-than-human co-existence.  Conversation will be moderated by Dr. Tuyen Le (ACLS Postdoctoral Fellow, Kaplan Institute).

About The Speakers

Dr. Madhusudan Katti is an Associate Professor in the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program for Leadership in Public Science and the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. An evolutionary ecologist by training, he now engages local communities and the broader public in studying how human activities and histories of colonization and segregation shape the distribution of nature and biodiversity in urban areas. His work centers Reconciliation Ecology—the application of evolutionary ecology to find real-world solutions for reconciling biodiversity conservation with human wellbeing. He is also interested in the ethics of ecological research, nature conservation, and of how humans learn to live with other species. He is actively engaged in rethinking and redesigning his own research and the teaching of ecology and conservation biology within a broader framework of decolonizing science.

Dr. Zoe Todd (Red River Métis) is a practice-led artist-researcher who studies the relationships between Indigenous sovereignty and freshwater fish futures in Canada. As a Métis anthropologist and researcher-artist, Dr. Todd combines dynamic social science and humanities research and research-creation approaches — including ethnography, archival research, oral testimony, and experimental artistic research practices — within a framework of Indigenous philosophy to elucidate new ways to study and support the complex relationships between Indigenous sovereignty and freshwater fish well-being in Canada today. They are a co-founder of the Institute for Freshwater Fish Futures (2018), which is a collaborative Indigenous-led initiative that is ‘restor(y)ing fish futures, together’ across three continents. They were a 2018 Yale Presidential Visiting Fellow, and in 2020 they were elected to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars.

Feature Image: “tree view” by angela7dreams is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.
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The Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities promotes expansive, interdisciplinary discussion and debate. Serving as a crossroads, clearing house and testing ground, the Institute cultivates ideas that transform into cutting-edge research and dynamic courses. We cultivate this work through our annual fellowship program for faculty working in the humanities; our co-sponsorship of numerous workshops, reading groups, performances, film presentations, readings and lectures; and our first-year honors program (the Kaplan Humanities Scholars Program). The Institute reaches through and beyond disciplines at Northwestern by hosting public humanities programs, such as our partnership with the Evanston Public Library and the Chicago Humanities Festival.

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