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A new Earth conversation



In a recent article by Diana Chapman Walsh, A new Earth conversation is highlighted as a model for higher education in this time of climate crisis. Her article traces the development of climate dialogues at Clark and invokes the critical need for deep conversation at a time of great transformation:
It seems to us that this approach — engaging deeply and honestly with our students in the face of the existential threat that clouds so much of their present and future — is a way to be American higher education in the Anthropocene.

You can read the full article on Medium.


We hope you will join us for these upcoming programs:

Collaborative Launch Event!

Incoming NEC Collaborative course students and faculty are invited to our semester orientation to welcome new participants into A new Earth conversation. This is an opportunity to meet other Collaborative students, learn more about what makes a Collaborative course distinct and become introduced to the process of the Council on the Uncertain Human Future. In addition to a short presentation, we will offer food and interactive activities with students from our nine spring Collaboratives.

WED January 15 | Higgins Lounge, 4 to 5:30pm

Sherri Mitchell will join us in February to host a public talk and decolonization workshop.

Sherri was born and raised on the Penobscot Indian reservation (
Penawahpskek).  She speaks and teaches around the world on issues of Indigenous rights, environmental justice, and spiritual change.

Her portrait is part of Robert Shetterly's series,
Americans Who Tell The Truth.

Decolonizing our Hearts, Minds, and Movements

This one-day workshop offers a glimpse into the work required to decolonize our hearts and minds. Participants will gain an understanding of how colonization has impacted our thinking and the ways that we engage one another and the world around us. We will look at the illusion of separation; use of language; our relationship to the sources of our survival; ritual and ceremony; economy and ecology, and states of dependence. We will also explore the divisions and biases that have been built into our societies and ideologies, and how those biases have informed our history, shaped our contemporary societies, and prevented us from joining our movements.

WED February 12  | Location TBD

Sacred Instructions

Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change

Drawing from the ancestral knowledge of her Indigenous roots, and her experience as an attorney and activist, Sherri Mitchell addresses some of the most critical issues of our day. Mitchell’s teachings provide a road map for the spirit and a compass of compassion for humanity. She offers readers a new path forward using timeless Native American wisdom that transforms the way that we see the world and our place in it. She deftly makes the timeless modern and more relevant than ever, by using ancient perspectives to address the disconnect and despair that so many people feel in the world today. This talk is recommended for anyone wanting the healing of self, society, and our shared planet.

THURS February 13  | Higgins Lounge

Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers


Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers (she/her) is the author of The Tilt Torn Away From the Seasons. Dystopian and ecopoetic, this collection of poetry examines the impulse—and danger—of the colonial mindset, and the ways that gendered violence and ecological destruction, body and land, are linked.



MON February 24 | Locations TBD

Workshop* 11 am to 1 pm
Reading by the Poet 4:30 pm

*Sign-up required. Email Mandy Gutmann-Gonzalez to register.

Sponsored by the English Department's new Clark Poets and Writers Reading Series, and A new Earth conversation

Farming While Black

Leah Penniman, Clark alumni and co-founder of Soul Fire Farm, joins us to discuss her work to end discrimination and injustice in our food system. In her new book, Farming While Black, she offers the first comprehensive manual for African-heritage people ready to reclaim their rightful place of dignified agency in the food system.

Learn how you too can be part of the movement for food sovereignty and help build a food system based on justice, dignity, and abundance for all.

THURS March 26 | Higgins Lounge

Indigenous Storytelling from the Amazon

Reimagining Diversity and Inclusion via Epistemologies of the South

This project facilitates a dynamic dialogue between higher education institutions, the Pachaysana Institute, and two indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The goal is for each participant to re-imagine, from an epistemic point of view, how they approach diversity and inclusion at their institutions or in their communities.

MON March 30
TUES March 31 | Locations TBD

Listening in Nature Day

This spring we will be welcome Circus Minimus to Clark for a special Listening in Nature experience.

A core element of the NEC, this day is an opportunity to reconnect to the natural world and cultivate an awareness of our interdependent relationship with the environment around us. We will offer activities across campus from morning until sundown that create a space for slowing down and being present in nature. A full schedule will be released this spring.

WED APRIL 15 | all day around campus

Evening of Council

NEC will host two Evenings of Council this semester to deepen into the conversations that began during our spring Collaborative Councils. Participation is by invitation, but please reach out to Michelle Sayles if you are interested in joining.

TUES February 11 | Razzo Lobby, Traina Center for the Arts | 6 to 9pm
TUES April 7 | Higgins Lounge | 6 to 9pm


The work of the Council on the Uncertain Human Future has flourished over the past few months, and continues growing within and beyond the Clark campus.

These are a few of our recent highlights:

Over 130 students met in Council this fall as part of their Collaborative course experience! We are immensely grateful to these classes for their participation:

  • The Arctic in the Anthropocene — Karen Frey
  • Development and Environment in Latin America — Anthony Bebbington
  • Critical Pedagogy for Social and Environmental JusticeJude Fernando
  • Climate Praxis — Tim DeChristopher
  • Mega Development — Denise Humphreys Bebbington
  • Culture, Environment and Development — Cynthia Caron
  • Writing: Sense of Place — Jessica Bane-Robert
  • Technologies of Renewable Energy — Chuck Agosta
A Council on the Uncertain Political Future convened on November 7; participants included Pat Benjamin (350 Central MA; WSU); Sarah Buie (NEC/CUHF), Tim DeChristopher (Visiting Fellow and Collaborative Instructor), Anita Fabos (IDCE), Denise Humphreys Bebbington (IDCE), Errica Saunders (350 Central MA), Ruth Smith (WPI), Barbara Waldorf (CUHF), and Walter Wright (Philosophy).
On November 15 and 16, the Council on the Uncertain Human Future traveled to Philadelphia for the first CUHF session at Swarthmore College, hosted by the Office of Sustainability. This double circle (24 members) includes faculty, staff, students and community members, and will re-convene in February.
The Student Environmental Resource Center at UC Berkeley hosted their first Council on the Uncertain Human Future on October 18/19, and will meet for a second session in mid-February 2020. The group includes faculty, graduate students and staff.

NEC Spring Collaboratives

This semester, we are offering nine NEC Collaboratives; all launched with an experience of the Council on the Uncertain Human Future
ARTS 133 Painting II: States of Being Amy Wynne
EN 228 / IDCE 328 Food Security and Climate Change Morgan Ruelle
EN 242 / IDCE 332 Sustainable Development Assessment and Planning Timothy Downs
ENG 111 Creative Writing: Nonfiction Michael Carolan
ES 1970 Sustainability and the Sacred (SPS) Rachael Shea
ID 221 / IDCE 30121 Food Systems: Place, Politics, and Policy Ramon Borges-Mendez
ID 234 / IDCE 30334 NEC Council Collaborative Walter Wright and Sarah Buie
IDCE 365 Cities, Regions, Climate Change and Health Timothy Downs
PSTD 101 Introduction to Peace Studies Jude Fernando

For course descriptions, please visit our NEC Course page.

Are you interested in becoming an NEC Student Fellow?

This is a great opportunity for students who have recently completed a Collaborative course and want to deepen their involvement with A new Earth conversation. Please reach out to NEC Assistant Director Michelle Sayles for more information.

NEC Affiliated Courses

Affiliated Courses provide another interdisciplinary opportunity for students to engage in reflection on the climate crisis. These courses may integrate Listening in Nature experiences, NEC programs, and the Council on the Uncertain Human Future as part of their offerings.

We are delighted to have these courses affiliated with NEC this semester:

EN 217 Place-Based Ecological Knowledge — Morgan Ruelle
ENG 275 / 375 Fictions of Empire: Studies in Global English Literature
Literature and the Climate Crisis in Global Perspective — Steve Levin 
GEOG 201 / 301 Taste, Culture, Power: Historical Geographies of Food Youjin Chung
GEOG 220 Property and the Global Environment James McCarthy
GEOG 263 The Climate System and Global Environmental Change Karen Frey
GEOG 280 / 380 Urban Ecology: Cities as Ecosystems Rinku Roy Chowdhury
GEOG 286 Geographies of Poverty and Inequality Jessa Loomis
GEOG 386 Political Ecologies of the Anthropocene James McCarthy
IDCE 343 Understanding and Responding to the Migrant / Refugee ChallengeTimothy Downs and Anita Fabos
PHIL 131 Environmental EthicsPatrick Derr



Reports from the Field is our newest feature on the NEC website, in which we highlight the work of students and faculty engaged in critical field work, experiential learning, and collective action.

Recent posts include:
-Karen Canales Del Castillo's research on deforestation drivers in the Peruvian Amazon
-Student reflections from a Polar Science Research Laboratory excursion to the Arctic
We would love to highlight your work on our blog! Please reach out to Michelle Sayles to pitch a story for inclusion this spring.
Our Visual Media Fellow, Priscilla Ahn, has produced some beautiful resources for the NEC Instagram page, sharing work from the Council on the Uncertain Human Future Reader for this Moment, as well as ongoing program updates.

Follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on NEC happenings and to read selections from our Reader!


Lead Convener  
Ellen Foley IDCE

Core Advisory Group 
Chuck Agosta Physics
Jessica Bane-Robert LEEP Center
Anthony Bebbington Geography
Sarah Buie V&PA, Founding Convener CUHF
Ed Carr IDCE
Denise Humphreys Bebbington IDCE
Jenny Isler Sustainable Clark
Steve Levin English
Deb Robertson Biology
Rinku Roy Chowdhury Geography
Morgan Ruelle IDCE

Core Advisory Group (cont.)
Rachael Shea Goddard Library
Walter Wright Philosophy
Amy Wynne Studio Arts; CUHF Co-Coordinator

NEC Staff
Michelle Sayles Assistant Director
Rose Gallogly Design consultant

NEC Student Fellows

Priscilla Ahn Visual Media; MS '21
Dimitri Koufis BA '22
Aswira Pasha Dual MS/MBA '20
August Welles BA '19; MA '20

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