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Sustainability News

ASU Wrigley Institute News Environmental Humanities New Directions

August 27, 2018

In 2013, Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability and the Amerind Foundation entered a partnership with Cambridge University Press to publish a book series exploring the impact of the sustainability sciences. That series, New Directions in Sustainability and Society (NDSS), has just been renewed by Cambridge University Press under new leadership. ASU professors Joni Adamson, an environmental humanist, and Shauna BurnSilver, an environmental anthropologist, have been tapped as the new series editors. The renewed series will expand the original collaboration to include ASU’s Environmental Humanities Initiative.

During its first five years, NDSS was co-edited by Christopher Boone, dean of ASU’s School of Sustainability, and and Norman Yoffee, professor emeritus at University of Michigan’s Department of Anthropology and Department of Near Eastern Studies. Several compelling works were published, including "Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Learning from Indigenous Practices for Environmental Sustainability." This book emerged from a symposium held in 2013 at the Amerind Foundation which gathered sustainability, anthropology and humanities scholars from ASU and across the U.S. to think about sustainability from the perspectives of indigenous peoples. Published in 2018 and edited by Melissa K. Nelson and Dan Shilling, "Traditional Ecological Knowledge" is an exemplar of the collaborative potential of NDSS projects.

Boone and Yoffee will remain on the recently expanded editorial board, and Adamson and BurnSilver have planned a list of new titles to be published over the next three years that will strengthen the two “new directions,” or streams, that have become the hallmark of the series. Titles in the first stream, Adamson explains, “will explore past earth histories and vibrant human futures. They will focus on the world’s present crises in biodiversity, climate change, resource conflicts and water–food security.” The aim of these titles will be to explore what lessons from the past might be applied to 21st century challenges.

Joni AdamsonAdamson says that new projects in this stream will continue to be incubated at symposia held at the Amerind Foundation. “There is so much that can be learned from analysis not only of how physical environments changed in the past, even on a millennial scale, but also of the human memory surrounding these changes,” she says. “Memories are kept alive in poems, sagas, folktales, place names, annals and other textual as well as archaeological archives.”

For these reasons, NDSS symposia will support projects and researchers from literary studies, anthropology, archeology, history, geography and the social and natural sciences.

Shauna BurnSilverTitles in the second stream will focus on just and sustainable societies. These titles “will foreground environmental and intergenerational justice approaches for motivating individual and societal changes that are guided by values, beliefs and cultures, and are a reflection of ideology, politics, economics, inequities and material realities,” Adamson says. Prominent scholars added to the editorial board, including Giovanna Di Chiro of Swarthmore College and David Naguib Pellow of the University of California at Santa Barbara, bring expertise in this area of critical environmental justice studies.

BurnSilver notes that she and Adamson anticipate “publishing the best new research addressing environmental degradation and climate change by prominent and newly emerging authors. We are looking forward to working with authors who care about planetary, human and nonhuman well-being and who want to publish books that strengthen the social and ecological systems that are critical to all life, now and into the future.”

Photos: Top - Joni Adamson, Bottom - Shauna BurnSilver