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Higgins School Of Humanities Research Collaboratives - Clark University

Council members (clockwise from top): Mary Catherine Bateson, Gretel Ehrlich, Diana Chapman Walsh, Sarah Buie, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Elizabeth Sawin, Joan Kleypas, Susanne Moser, Camille Seaman, and Lama Willa Miller. Not pictured: Kathleen Dean Moore and Janet Echelman.

Council on the Uncertain Human Future

The Council on the Uncertain Human Future is a sustained conversation among twelve distinguished scholars and artists whose personal commitments and professional expertise qualify them to consider at a deep level the future of the planet and humanity in relationship to climate change and environmental degradation. The purpose of the Council is twofold: to convene a vital conversation on issues of the Anthropocene, and to encourage new insights among Council members who might be influential in the transformation of attitudes and actions as we move toward a future on a radically altered planet.

Held in three two-day retreats over the course of 2014, the Council is considering the nature and scale of the climate crisis (Council One), what that information portends for humans and the planet (Council Two), and how we as humans might best choose to respond to these challenges and uncertainties (Council Three).

The Council will share aspects of their conversation and collective insights following its completion, in writing, video, or both.

Council Sessions

What is the nature and scale of the climate crisis, seen deeply and accurately?

Public event
The Anthropocene and its Discontents
Daniel Schrag, Director, Center for the Environment, Harvard University
February 4, 2014 at Clark University

Professor and geologist Dan Schrag offers the long view of the science of our changing climate — what is happening, why, and where it might be headed. Watch Dan Schrag's speech at Clark »

Additional talks on climate science by Susanne Moser and Christopher Williams here

Why is it happening, and what does it mean for Earth and for humans?

What is Missing?
Maya Lin, artist and designer
April 7, 2014 at Maya Lin Studio

Maya Lin speaks about her sixth and last memorial project, What is Missing?, a series of works that raise awareness of the massive species extinction underway around the world, and her upcoming project Greenprint (2015), visioning a sustainable world. Watch Maya Lin's talk »

How shall we conduct ourselves in the face of grave danger and uncertainty?

Public event
Stories for Hot Weather
Rebecca Solnit, writer and historian
Thursday September 18, 2014 at Clark University

Rebecca Solnit addresses the question of what stories we have been and need to be telling ourselves about climate change and the possibilities for the human future. Watch Rebecca Solnit's lecture at Clark » Watch a panel discussion between Council members and Rebecca Solnit »

Council Members

The twelve Council members, chosen for their commitment and outstanding contributions to these concerns, represent a range of perspectives and include: anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson, artist Janet Echelman, writer Gretel Ehrlich, marine ecologist Joan Kleypas, Buddhist scholar/teacher Lama Willa Miller, moral philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore, climate scientist Susanne (Susi) Moser, systems thinker Elizabeth (Beth) Sawin, photographer Camille Seaman, religion and environment scholar Mary Evelyn Tucker, former college President Diana Chapman Walsh and designer Sarah Buie (convener).

Council members biographies »

Convening a Local Council

Please consider convening a Council on this critical topic; as a process, it is adaptable and widely applicable. We encourage and will support convening of local councils by CHCI member humanities centers and other groups, through A Guide to Convening a Council on the Uncertain Human Future, and mentoring on the process of launching a council. There is also a Member's Guide to Council on the Uncertain Human Future. Please contact Project Director Sarah Buie for further information.