2023 Minden Symposium
Urban Ecologies: Imagining the Environmentally Just City
Hosted by the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment, the Minden Symposium offers annually a multidisciplinary series of public-facing events on science, policy, social justice, and system change, blending together keynote talks, panel discussions, and interactive workshops. The 2023 Minden Symposium is a collaboration with Critical Zones, an initiative dedicated to promoting the environmental humanities at U of T and across the bioregion. The Symposium explores anthropogenic impacts on the earth, using a broad range of approaches from the environmental humanities, decolonial studies, Indigenous studies, and more.
The Symposium will take place across two days of events: a first day of panels and talks, headed by the keynote lecture, and a second day of guided “field trips” into Toronto’s urban ecologies and its intertwined environmental, cultural and colonial histories.
Scope and Theme
Despite the IPCC’s repeated warnings of verging systemic collapse as we pass crucial tipping points, and although policy makers and technology experts have detailed the necessary steps to protect the biosphere, we still lack the critical mass to mobilize for a planetary transformation. This year’s Minden Symposium explores the possible contributions of humanistic, artistic, cultural and social ways of knowing to help catalyze a shift in consciousness to imagine this transformation.
We are particularly interested in city ecologies, and how we can draw from humanistic and decolonial approaches to help us know the city in ways that entrenched disciplinary formations cannot. We invite contributions that explore the nexus of culture, the arts, and sustainability in urban contexts, and that consider questions such as: What does the ecologically just city look like? What historical examples of urban environmental justice might we draw from? What actions or relations must emerge to make the urban zone a model of eco-justice? What cultures of thought, behavior, and imagination make city ecologies thrive or falter?
Dr. Ingrid Waldron is Professor & HOPE Chair in Peace & Health, Global Peace & Social Justice Program in the Department of History at McMaster University. She is the Director of the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities & Community Health Project (The ENRICH Project) and co-founder of the National Anti-Environmental Racism Coalition. Professor Waldron is the author of There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous & Black Communities (2018), which was the basis of the eponymous documentary that premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.
Call for papers and urban field trip leaders.
We invite proposals for short talks, “lightning” talks, and urban field trip leaders. Requests for material support and honoraria for field trips will be considered on an individual basis until funding is exhausted. The submission deadline is December 15, 2022. Please complete the submission form.
In order to generate maximum engagement and discussion, we are soliciting speakers to provide talks in either of the following formats:
a) highly focused talks of 15 minutes or b) “lightning” talks of 5 minutes with or without slides *or* in the Ignite format (20 slides
advancing automatically every 15 seconds).
● Urban design and culture in the age of the climate crisis
● Ongoing histories of urban zoning (of communities, resources, waste)
● Ways of knowing city ecologies: (Indigenous, spatial, ontological, spiritual, social)
● Cultures and negotiations of Indigeneity in urban areas
● Urban queer ecology and queer models of urban mutual aid
● The opportunities and challenges of activist work within the city
● Impacts of gentrification on urban ecology
● Indigenous, Black and Afro-Indigenous urban environmentalisms
We seek proposals from artistic practitioners, community activists, scholars, professionals, and members of the public to lead short excursions of approximately 30-45 minutes into the overlapping zones of the local GTA environment. Destinations might be (but are not limited to) waterfronts, buildings, soundscapes, and hidden or exposed public spaces or histories. The goal is to offer Minden participants a range of perspectives on our urban habitat and to invite meaningful connection with the land on which we