Foreign Languages and the Environment: Seed Projects for Sustainable Humanities

Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 9:30am to Friday, March 2, 2018 - 4:30pm

Keynote speaker
Katherine Arens (University of Texas-Austin)

Plenary speakers 
Elena Past (Wayne State University)
Maggie Broner (St. Olaf College)

Environmental studies are becoming a prime catalyst for change in foreign language programs as faculty have begun to explore the capacity of the humanities to address complex issues through interdisciplinary research, innovative teaching, and public engagement. While departments of language, literatures and cultures have rightly questioned their role in discussions of STEM, climate change is a pressing challenge for all. This symposium will bring together experienced teacher/scholars for a discussion of curricular reform efforts in relation to environmental initiatives emerging in language programs. It will furthermore incorporate the perspectives of literary, cultural studies, and second language acquisition scholars. The environmental humanities offer a robust model for bridging the divide between academic analysis and environmental discourse and practice in the public sphere. Individual faculty research and teaching initiatives at diverse institutions demonstrate that interdisciplinary collaboration of this kind can stimulate curricular innovation in a way that revitalizes foreign language teaching and learning. This symposium will provide an opportunity for dialogue about how the content integration of environmental perspectives can become a vehicle for the teaching of cultural narratives, values, and perspectives at every level of the curriculum.

Sponsored by the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition

Minneapolis, MN

Satoyama: Japan's Vision for Food, Farming, and Ecology


Japan's rural landscapes have long been defined by the blurring of lines between nature and agriculture. These "socio-ecological" or "bio-cultural" zones, known as satoyama, have long influenced human diets both in Japan and beyond, ultimately influencing the rise of organic agriculture in the West. These lands have also played a direct role in the evolution and survival of wild plants and animals. Today, the concept of satoyama provides a contemporary model for how humans and nature can successfully co-exist, yet even in Japan this model remains under constant threat.

Eric Lee-Mäder is the Pollinator Conservation and Agricultural Biodiversity Co-Director at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation ( In this role Eric works across the world with farmers, food companies, and agencies such as the USDA and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to enhance biodiversity in agricultural lands. Since 2008, he has supported a team of insect ecologists conducting large-scale wildflower restoration for pollinators across more than 400,000 acres. His work has been featured in major media, cited in a 2016 White House report on pollinator conservation, and he is the author of several books including the best-selling Attracting Native Pollinators, and Farming with Beneficial Insects: Strategies for Ecological Pest Management

Eric Lee-Mäder
Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 1:00pm

Animal Figure in Post-Nuclear Cinema

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 1:00pm
Hideaki Fujiki