Over the past two decades or so, the ISA’s Environmental Studies Section (ESS) has helped build a tradition of scholarship focused on global environmental politics. Over this same period of time, the very ground on which it and everything else rests has shifted. Today, humanity governs the planet, though often in ways that are accidental or ill considered. With close to 7 billion people, of whom many are plugged into globalized technologies, patterns of consumption, and systems of world-spanning commerce and interaction, humanity is pressing the ecological foundations of the planet like never before. Our species’ collective impact has created what author Bill McKibben calls a new “eaarth”—one in which the human signature is everywhere and in desperate need of humane and insightful guidance.
As researchers and teachers of international studies, how are we to make sense of this new earth? How are we to act as responsible and privileged citizens, and what are the most meaningful forms of research and teaching that need to take place?
On Tuesday, March 15, 2011, members of ESS will meet for a day-long workshop to wrestle together with these questions. As scholars of global environmental affairs, ESS members have a responsibility to generate and disseminate clear understanding of the stakes, the state of knowledge, and the questions that are as yet unanswered and even unasked about the planet’s new socio-ecological condition and fate. The workshop will provide a forum for ESS members to learn from each other about living on a new earth, and to consider how best to respond through scholarship and action.