Planting Seeds of Hope: Environmental Education for the Present & Future

Kieko Matteson

Paper: “Artemisia’s Army: Environmental Education as Bioremediation”
Abstract: The news these days feels relentlessly grim on nearly every issue, from economic security to human rights to the ecological health of the planet. On the political front, cynics and strongmen exult in their increased influence, dismantling longstanding social and environmental protections with ever-increasing boldness and thumbing their nose at all who object. Politics as usual seem inadequate, but so too does resistance at the scale necessary to make a difference.

How, then to respond to the crises pressing in on all sides?

The best bet, I contend in this section of the syllabus, is environmental education. My essay looks at four diverse approaches spanning from elementary and middle school to university-level, each created by women whose earlier careers led them to a common conclusion: that the only way to make a genuine and lasting difference is to nurture children’s curiosity and foster compassion for the natural world. Planting the seeds of environmental engagement in every child is not for the faint of heart – it requires painstaking effort and the patience of Job – but taken collectively, the impacts are enduring and powerful.

Starting with my essay, this module invites students to consider the diverse motivations and methodologies of environmental education. Readings and other resources present different curricular approaches, while assignments (at the discretion of the instructor) should encourage students to explore the strengths and weaknesses of other models of environmental pedagogy.

My aim is to encourage students to think about the ways education can enhance or proscribe our relationships with the natural world. How might more unorthodox approaches from early childhood on up inspire wonder, foster greater awareness of non-human environmental stakeholders, and encourage more sustainable forms of resource use in the long and short run?

How do you define radical hope?
The most radical expression of optimism is slow hope, to borrow Christof Mauch’s expression – in this case, the pursuit of a pedagogy committed to cultivating change from the ground up, with the aim of creating a society of individuals culturally, intellectually, spiritually, and materially committed to caring for all the elements of the earth, animate and inanimate alike.

How do you see radical hope emerging or playing out in your case study?
The case studies I explore in my essay are the living embodiment of radical hope, in each woman’s bold efforts to devise an ethical, invigorating, creative curriculum that encourages young people to shake off the status quo and devise a more ecologically viable vision for the future.


  • Davis, Julie M. Young Children and the Environment: Early Education for Sustainability. 2nd ed. (Port Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
  • Grant, Tim and Gail Littlejohn. Teaching Green: The Elementary Years: Hands-on Learning in Grades K-5 (Gabriola, B.C.: New Society Publishers, 2005).
  • Locke, Steven. “Environmental education for democracy and social justice in Costa Rica.” International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 18:2 (2009) 97-110.
  • Louv, Richard. Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. (Chapel Hill, NC, Algonquin Books, 2005).
  • O’Kane, Trish. “What the Sparrows Told Me.” New York Times, August 17, 2014, New York edition, page SR6.
  • Saylan, Charles, and Daniel T. Blumstein. The Failure of Environmental Education (and How We Can Fix It). (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).
  • Sobel, David T. Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators. (Portland, Me., Stenhouse Publishers, 2008).
  • Wake, Lynn Overholt. “E.B. White’s Paean to Life: The Environmental Imagination of Charlotte’s Web,” in S.I. Dobrin and K.B. Kidd, eds. Wild Things: Children’s Culture and Ecocriticism. (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2004), 101-114.
  • Wattchow, Brian and Mike Brown. A Pedagogy of Place: Outdoor Education for a Changing World (Monash University Publishing, 2011).

  • Colleges of the Fenway (Massachusetts) Minor in Sustainability
  • North American Association for Environmental Educators, (see especially guidelines and workbooks for educators)
  • SEEQS, School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability, Honolulu, Hawai`i. “Essential questions” curriculum,
  • Wilderness Education Association,

Programs, videos, articles, and exhibitions featured in my essay:

  • Collier, Andrée, TEDx theme “Joy and Purpose” October 3, 2015, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.
  • Marris, Emma. Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World (Bloomsbury USA, 2011).
  • Marsching, Jane. “Incubating Change: Pedagogies of Sustainability in Art and Design Education,” paper presented at the College Art Association conference, New York, NY, February 18, 2017. [PDF]
  • Marsching, Jane, “Ice Out”
  • Marsching, Jane, “Test Site”
  • Marsching, Jane, “Water Quality Sing-Along”, accessed 15 May 2017
  • O’Kane, Trish. “Pattern of Migration,” New York Times Magazine, March 25, 2007.

Thrifty Science

Simon Werrett

Is expanding consumption and use of limited resources and energy an inevitability, or are there alternative ways of living that might lead to a more sustainable world? History offers hopeful solutions, and in this section we consider past practices and ideas concerning material things that understood them in very different ways to those prevalent in the industrialized world today. As Karen Harvey explains in her chapter “The Language of Oeconomy”, early modern writers in sixteenth to eighteenth-century Europe championed “oeconomy” or household management, which valued “thrift” and “frugality” in managing everyday affairs. Thrift was not understood as saving money but as finding a balance between buying new and making the best use of what one already owned. It also combined material and moral concerns, looking after possessions and people were connected and equally important. Thomas Tusser’s book of household tips provides fascinating evidence of this wide meaning of “thrift” in early modern England, revealing its connection to the optimistic notion of “thriving”. Inherent in thrifty living was a form of experimentation and creativity shared by men and women, who sought to “make use” of things as best they could. This was the heart of oeconomy and it could be argued was a major impetus to the rise of experiment as a way of knowing about nature in the seventeenth century. The chemist and champion of experimental method Robert Boyle’s essay “Of Men’s Great Ignorance of the Uses of Natural Things” makes this apparent, as Boyle wrestled to find new uses for a variety of mundane items and waste products in the service of good oeconomy. Women also experimented, finding out the uses of herbs and minerals to make medicines, as Leong shows. Thrifty householders made good use of things, and making things endure helped achieve this. Repair work, maintenance, careful storage and recycling all contributed to extending the lives of goods, areas whose history has been little studied thus far, though some aspects of these practices are examined by Werrett, Oldenziel and Trischler, Fennetaux, Vasset and Junqua. Continuous reworking of possessions into new uses meant that early moderns understood material things to be open-ended or “incomplete objects” capable of constant revision, an idea explored in a contemporary setting by Karin Knorr-Cetina.

How do you define radical hope?

Thrift, understood in its early modern sense of being a path to thriving, offers an alternative to the seeking after endless growth and exploitation of resources characteristic of modern economies. What I call “Thrifty science” consists of a myriad of small-scale, manageable practices for changing everyday life, learned from history, which serve as an alternative to grand but unrealistic ideologies for global environmental transformation. Oeconomic thinking also offers hope. While today’s economics tries to erase the human from the circulation of money and resources, reducing it to measures and numbers, oeconomics reintroduces the human and moral to these flows, investing people and things with importance requiring preservation and care. Oeconomics is a radical path to thriving.

How do you see radical hope emerging or playing out in your case study?

We don’t yet have even the beginnings of a science of oeconomics, but I have tried to begin exploring the idea in a paper entitled “Shiftspaces”. Shift is an early modern term for a clever improvisation, using what you have ready to hand to make something. It could be a scientific instrument made from coffee pots and clay pipes, or a container constructed from old china fragments or bottles. Shiftspaces, then, are places which are made from, and encourage the making of, shifts. They could be “maker spaces” or “hack spaces” of the kinds that have sprung up in recent decades, websites sharing knowledge, or repair shops, or just kitchens or sheds used for tinkering (see the links to Jugaad Innovation, Past Imperfect, the Library of Things, the Maintainers). Shiftspaces are laboratories for oeconomics, where radical hope emerges, where people and things learn to thrive.


  • Boyle, Robert, “Essay X. Of Men’s Great Ignorance of the Uses of Natural Things: or, That there is scarce any one Thing in Nature, wherof the Uses to human Life are yet thoroughly understood,” [1671] in Robert Boyle, The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, 6 vols. (London, 1772), vol. 3, 470-94.
  • Fennetaux, Ariane; Sophie Vasset and Amélie Junqua, eds., The Afterlife of Used Things: Recycling in the Long Eighteenth Century (New York: Routledge, 2014).
  • Franklin, Benjamin. “The Way to Wealth.” In Anon. Miscellanies in Prose and Verse: Selected from Pope, Swift, Addison, Goldsmith, Sterne, Hume, Smollet, Gay, Shenstone, Prior, Murphy, and Brooke (Leominster, c. 1770), 61-72.
  • Harvey, Karen, The Little Republic: Masculinity and Domestic Authority in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • Knorr-Cetina, Karin, “Objectual Practice.” In The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory, edited by Theodore R. Schatzki, Karin Knorr-Cetina, Eike von Savigny (London: Routledge, 2001), 175-188.
  • Leong, Elaine, “Collecting Knowledge for the Family: Recipes, Gender and Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern English Household,” Centaurus 55 (2013): 81–103.
  • Oldenziel, Ruth, and Helmuth Trischler, eds., Cycling and Recycling: Histories of Sustainable Practices (New York; Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2016).
  • Tusser, Thomas, Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry As Well For the Champion or Open Countrey… and Besides the Book of Houswifery (London, 1672; 1812 edition); xviii-xxi (“The Ladder to Thrift”).
  • Van Driel, Joppe, “The Filthy and the Fat: Oeconomy, Chemistry and Resource Management in the Age of Revolutions.” PhD diss., University of Twente, 2016.
  • Werrett, Simon, “Recycling in Early Modern Science.” British Journal for the History of Science 46 (2013): 627-646.
  • Werrett, Simon, “Household Oeconomy and Chemical Inquiry.” In Compound Histories: Materials, Production, Governance, 1760-1840, edited by Lissa Roberts, Simon Werrett (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 35-56.

Other sources

  • An introduction to Jugaad Innovation <<>>
  • Past Imperfect: The Art of Inventive Repair <<>>
  • The Library of Things <<>>
  • The Maintainers <<>>
  • A very brief video on “thrifty science”
  • <<>>

Air Pollution: Issues and Solutions

Hal Crimmel

Abstract: Since the dawn of the industrial area, air pollution has been a stubborn problem, especially in crowded urban areas. Air pollution in London and other European cities, for example, steadily worsened during the 1800s as the tonnage of coal being burned to power industry and generate electricity grew. But the most infamous air pollution event not attributable to a single event, such as Chernobyl, or the 1984 Bhopal, India, disaster caused by a Union Carbide pesticide plant’s release of thirty tons of toxic gas, took place just over sixty years ago. In December 1952, a combination of unusual weather patterns and the burning of low-grade coal caused the Great Smog of London, an event which killed thousands and led to new clean air laws in Britain. In the United States, the October 1948 Donora Smog was and remains the worst short-term air pollution-related disaster in the nation’s history, where airborne pollutants from local steel mills became trapped in the valley, killing at least twenty people and sickening thousands more.

Today, the World Health Organization estimates that 92% of the world’s population lives in areas where air pollution exceeds WHO limits; nearly 1 out of 9 deaths globally—some 10 million—are attributed to poor air quality, an environmental issue of global concern. In the United States, the American Lung Association estimates that nearly half of all Americans live in areas with compromised air quality, from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Los Angeles, from the Central Valley of California to New York City and on up to rural Maine. An MIT study estimated the number of premature deaths attributable to air pollution in the United States at 200,000. Indeed, and without considering the impact of carbon pollution on the climate, air pollution has and continues to profoundly impact our environment.

This section uses a case study approach from my home state of Utah, which has one of the nation’s worst wintertime air quality problems and seeks to explore how sustainability transformations in the present, including those consisting of energy, mobility, and public policy, can produce meaningful improvements to air quality in concert with the role of realistic hope created by non-profits, individuals, communities and policymakers taking action to restore local and regional airsheds. In Utah, as elsewhere across the globe, public demands for action on air quality have been galvanized by the narrative of health, an important reframing that contrasts with the industrial and dominant political narrative, which focuses on how curbing air pollution impacts jobs and the economy. Most of the content from this unit comes from my forthcoming (University of Utah Press, 2019) book, Utah’s Air Quality Issues: Problems and Solutions.

How do you define radical hope?

I see it as a rejection of the notion that we can’t change the ways things are currently, and as an embrace of the idea that targeted efforts can result in meaningful changes.

How do you see radical hope emerging or playing out in your case study?

In the context of this project, I see it as a question of perception and of action. Unlike other environmental issues—toxic waste dumps or localized water pollution, for instance, air pollution impacts everyone in a particular place, though some more so than others due to proximity to pollution sources. But in general, unless one moves out of state, there is no escape during periods of moderate to severe pollution. Such realizations have spurred many here to do something about what can genuinely seem, during the most severe wintertime pollution episodes, apocalyptic and fully dystopic. Yet many here are committed to rejecting earlier narratives of helplessness—and in this regard, the movement to improve the state’s air quality evinces a certain hope that could provide a template for the future, here and in key locations around the globe. The health awareness the movement has raised, the research it has created, and the political will it has started to generate has and will result in regulations, legislation, stepped-up enforcement and changed citizen behavior–all parts of solving the air pollution puzzle.

Readings/Resources related to Utah

  • Alexander, Thomas A. : “Cooperation, Conflict, and Compromise: Women, Men, and Environment in Salt Lake City, 1890-1930”. BYU Studies Quarterly 35 (1) 1995. 7-39.
  • Crimmel, Hal, ed. Utah’s Air Quality Issues: Problems and Solutions. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2019.

Table of contents:

  • Introduction: HAL CRIMMEL
  • Chapter One: Breathing in Utah’s Parks and Protected Areas: Air Quality and the Visitor Experience. CHRIS ZAJCHOWSKI
  • Chapter Two: What’s in the Inversion?: Particulate Matter Pollution in Northern Utah. KERRY E. KELLY
  • Chapter Three: Ozone, Dust and Climate Change: Air Quality in Rural Utah. SETH ARENS
  • Chapter Four: Air Pollution and its Impacts on Human Health. BRIAN MOENCH
  • Chapter Five: Air Pollution Control in Utah–The Legal Framework. JAMES A. HOLTKAMP
  • Chapter Six: The Economics of Air Quality in Utah. THERESE C. GRIJALVA and MATTHEW GNAGEY
  • Chapter Seven: Mobile Source Pollution and the Role of New Vehicle Technologies in Cleaning the Air. WILLIAM SPIEGLE
  • Chapter Eight: Environmental Justice and Advocacy . MARK A. STEVENSON and DENNI CAWLEY
  • Chapter Nine: Designed for Clean Air: The Role of Urban Planning and Transit in Solving Wasatch Front Air Quality Issues. ERIC C. EWERT
  • Chapter Ten: Carbon Pollution and the Impacts of Climate Disruption on Utah

Utah Websites:

  • AirNow: Utah Air Quality  (This site is maintained by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and displays air quality across the United States. Users will find many helpful links.)
  • Breathe Utah This site provides information useful for understanding air quality in Utah, including resources for getting involved in improving Utah’s air.
  • Breathing Stories: Utah Voices for Clean Air
  • (This chapbook from Torrey House Press is a compilation of stories from citizens.)
  • Utah Department of Environmental Quality: Air Quality
  • The Utah Division of Air Quality is a state agency under the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Users will find many useful links.
  • Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment (UPHE) website –
  • This organization was founded by physicians and “is dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of the citizens of Utah by promoting science- based health education and interventions that result in progressive, measurable improvements to the environment.
    Other air-quality resources for consideration:
  • Davis, Devra. When Smoke Ran Like Water: Tales Of Environmental Deception And The Battle Against Pollution. New York: Basic Books, 2003.
    • When Smoke Ran Like Water, written by a well-known epidemiologist, is written in narrative format, and provides “insights into the science and politics of public health.” As such it is something of an exposé of how industry has fought efforts to control many forms of environmental pollution. The book covers such topics as the battle to remove lead from gasoline, the effects of pesticide exposure on workers, the links between trichlorolethylene and cancer, and the effort in the 1970s to require the installation of pollution control devices on automobiles, among other topics.
  • Dewey, Scott Hamilton. Don’t Breathe the Air: Air Pollution and U.S. Environmental Politics, 1945-1970. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2000.
    • This book focuses on how air pollution became a social and public health issue in the 1960s. Using case studies from Los Angeles, New York, and Florida, the text discusses “how local efforts helped create both the modern environmental movement and federal environmental policy”.
  • Steingraber, Sandra. “Air” in Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2010.
    • Steingraber’s book contains one chapter on air pollution and its health impacts.
  • Earth Under Siege: From Air Pollution to Global Change, Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002.
    • This textbook “offers a comprehensive overview of environmental issues for students in the physical and life sciences, geography, economics, engineering, environmental management and law, policy studies, and social and health sciences.” It is extremely thorough, covering everything from basic physical and chemical principles to global environmental engineering.
  • McGranahan, Gordon and Frank Murray, eds. Air Pollution & Health in rapidly developing countries. New York: Routledge/Earthscan, 2012.
    • The edited collection Air Pollution & Health in rapidly developing countries targets “pollution and health policy-makers, researchers and others concerned with air pollution and health in developing countries.” In eleven chapters, this book reviews studies of air pollution from Africa, Asia, and South American and compares them with those originating in Europe and North America.
  • Phalen, Robert F. and Robert N. Phalen. Introduction To Air Pollution Science: A Public Health Perspective. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2013.
    • Introduction To Air Pollution Science is a textbook written expressly for “upper-level undergraduate and introductory graduate courses in air pollution”. It looks and reads like a textbook, though it contains quality information on the health impacts of air pollution.
  • Vallero, Daniel. Fundamentals of Air Pollution, Fifth Edition. Burlington, MA: Elsevier, 2014.
    • Fundamentals of Air Pollution is probably the best air pollution textbook on the market. Highly detailed and up-to-date on all aspects of air pollution, this 942-page book is targeted toward engineers and managers “tasked with the responsibility of air pollution control.”

Recurring Earthquakes and the Rebirth of Hope

Sophia Kalantzakos

Abstract: In April 2015, a devastating earthquake struck Nepal killing over 8,000 people and injuring more than 21,000. It erased whole villages at the foothills of the Himalayas, razed ancient cultural moments at UNESCO World Heritage sites. It devastated infrastructure and disrupted the way of life of one of the poorest countries in the world. In this paper, I examine diverging responses to this disaster that has left the country reeling under the burden of reconstruction in the midst of political turmoil. These responses serve as contrasting paradigms for cultures facing destruction in the Anthropocene.

Specifically, one rooted in historical Nepalese culture and memory represents a story of resilience and hope, where communities came together autonomously to celebrate life and hope of renewal. Citizen-led initiatives helped catalogue the destruction of the temples and cultural monuments and encouraged farmers to plant their crops so that they could have food (and not rely on foreign aid) in the months after the harvest.

The other technocratic, bureaucratic, and political response by the global institutions in concert with the central government once again proved the systemic inefficiencies governing international aid in a time of disaster. Nepalese know that earthquakes in their country are inevitable, happen with regularity – though many decades apart – each time bringing down vestiges of their culture, and their lives. Yet, this recurring experience so familiar and painful also calls for them to start anew reaffirming their radical hope in the future of their people.  This paradigm becomes particularly telling especially in the Anthropocene and in the face of the growing climate crisis. Nepalese resilience provides a hopeful message for the future.

How do you define radical hope?

Radical hope is embracing the temporal and celebrating the intangible. It’s not wanting to check off another item from a long to-do list and think we are done with a problem which can then safely be put away and forgotten.  Radical hope is knowing that change is constant; it’s wanting to build community; refusing to be alone and isolated; from the world, from oneself, from nature. It’s not being resigned to the inevitable but more importantly of believing that it’s meaningful and significant to act. Giving up the need to dominate will offer notions of radical hope in the Anthropocene.

How do you see radical hope emerging or playing out in your case study?

I found it inspiring that one of the poorest nations in Asia did not yield under the devastating earthquake of 2015. Instead, through community, heritage, traditions and spiritual beliefs it mobilized with dynamism and intent to restore its monuments, its faith, its home and its economy. In a country that has had to rely on its own society for decades, where government has largely been an impediment and certainly not a source of solutions, the Nepali people have proven resilient, creative, hands-on and optimistic. Earthquakes are recurring in Nepal, it’s part of the country’s psychic experience and yet, they plan with an eye at rebuilding again and again. What matters is passing down the knowledge from generation to generation so that the chain of memory, expertise, and resilience is unbroken. Radical hope resides in the Nepali outlook, community and spiritual bonds that keep people grounded and connected over time.


These readings and resources represent a wider thinking about Radical Hope. While they do not all touch upon Nepal’s hopeful recovery and spirit, they do contribute to the wider discussion of what radical hope might look like in the Anthropocene. They weave narratives of resilience, action, and rebirth ahead of the growing challenges ahead.


  • Bandyopadhyay, Tarashankar. The Tale of Hansuli Turn. Translated by Ben Conisbee Baer. Place of publication not identified: Columbia University Press, 2016.
  • Francis, Pope. Laudato Si — On Care for Our Common Home. Our Sunday Visitor, 2015.
  • Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, An opera by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon.
  • Nick Papandreou, The Magical Path to the Acropolis, Melissa Books, 2017
  • Flight of the Butterflies, by director Mike Slee.
  • Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015.
  • Return to Nepal: Rise of the Artisans,
  • The National Trust for Nature Conservation,

The Art of Protest: Radical Hope Envisioned and Embodied

Amy Hay

John Dixon


Some of the visual texts examined include the scribbled pictures in the meeting minutes of an ecumenical group formed to protest state inaction. The doodle showed various individuals as puppets, and included scientists and public officials, and in the process reveal a particular understanding of the world. One group used a striking picture of a young child getting their blood drawn in a fundraising letter and in the process identified the state as the enemy. Another environmental activist used striking visuals for the letterhead of her monthly newsletter. Sometimes there were dancing demons or dioxin-labeled chickens that had come home to roost. An examination of such visual texts offers important understandings of the ways activists effectively frame and challenge scientific and state authority while at the same time offering a different entry point, and potentially a more positive one, for us to understand difficult and unpleasant issues connected to environmental degradation and catastrophe.

Activism represents an especially important recovery project, not only because activists persevere in the face of significant and often depressing obstacles, but because meaningful change frequently happens incrementally, obvious only in hindsight. While many environmental social movements appeal to emotion and morality, they also ground themselves in the lived experience. Thinking about the things that sustain social movements offers hope in times when an individual or group may be a solitary voice in the wilderness, or when such forces transform society. We all may need to practice the art of protest as we address the realities of environmental loss and need for resilience and recovery.

How do you define radical hope?

Hope that nurtures change, often in the face of daunting opposition. Activists work to make change happen, and visual images and rhetoric offer one way to measure their hopes, fears, understandings, and determination.

How does radical hope emerge from my case study?

The various visual texts produced by environmental activists represent activists’ awareness, critiques, and humor as they pursued challenges to entrenched power. These texts often embody the idea of radical hope – a consciousness and commitment to determination, perspective, righteous anger, and biting humor while engaged in changing society and the world. Examining the materials produced by anti-toxic activists, an understudied area of environmental protest, provides a lens by which to understand the visual culture of protest and the emotional state(s) which sustain them.

Required Texts (Readings, Images, and Film):

  • Thomas W. Benson, excerpt, Posters for Peace: Visual Rhetoric and Civic Action (Pennsylvania Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, reprint, 2015).
  • Linda Gordon, “Dorothea Lange: The Photographer as Agricultural Sociologist,” The Journal of American History, 93, No. 3 (Dec., 2006), 698-727.
  • [Gordon examines the work of noted photographer Dorothea Lange during the Great Depression. Lange’s photographs captured the effects of the economic crisis in rural America and made an argument for government intervention.]
  • James M. Jasper, “The Emotions of Protest: Affective and Reactive Emotions in and around Social Movements,” Sociological Forum, 13, No. 3 (Sep., 1998), 397-424.
  • [Jasper discusses the centrality of emotions to collective action and protest.]
  • Nicolas Lambert, A People’s Art History of the United States: 250 Years of Activist Art and Artists Working in Social Justice Movements (New York: The New Press, 2015).
  • T.V. Reed, “ACTing UP Against AIDS: The (Very) Graphic Arts in a Moment of Crisis,” in The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005).
  • Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (Chicago, IL: Haymarket Press, 2015).
  • Ralph Young, Make Art Not War: Political Protest Posters from the Twentieth Century (New York: New York University Press, 2016).
  • DamNation (2014)Documentary Film: Activists focused on river and wetland restoration make a film about America’s “deadbeat” dams. These are dams that no longer serve the function for which they were built and which now disrupt and destroy local ecosystems. The documentary provides a historical overview, interviews with activists, and contemporary encounters in advocating that these dams be removed and watersheds restored.
  • Finis Dunaway, Seeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015)
  • 1971, “Crying Indian,” Public Service Announcement 

Expecting the Unexpected—The Role of Art in the Dissemination of Radical Hope

Patrick J. Reed

Abstract: In my artworks-on-paper, I use collage to demonstrate a subversive model for inclusive, non-hierarchical, non-subjugating modes of social and environmental consciousness. I rely on this fundamentally anarchic and queer aesthetic tradition for its ability to amalgamate and ally incongruities in profoundly unexpected ways.

The motivations behind my creative endeavours are jointly informed by two lines of thought.

One is Ben Nicholson’s notion of “collage thinking” as proposed in his book Appliance House from 1990, in which he wrote “Collage is part of everyone’s experience and, however well it is understood, it seems to refer to a group of ephemeral things brought together by a logic that disturbs, or negates, the status of the individual elements.” The other is Timothy Morton’s concept of “dark ecology,” in which all things have the potential to coexist in an exquisite state of bittersweet bliss and “pain without suffering,” a state of mind that is erotic, spiritual, and particularly attuned to collusions of the biosphere.

Collage, and by extension collagist thinking, promotes an uncomfortable balance that is applicable in an ecological dimension and has the potential to be radically more open and ethical as a mindset than the attitude of comfortable imbalance that is pervasive among the late late capitalism of the West—and therein lies the hope.

How do you define radical hope?

Radial hope is the willingness to accept and initiate radical empathy, radical capacity, radical  partnership, and the radically unforeseen with the hope the one has the strength to do so.

How do you see radical hope emerging or playing out in your case study?

This project is my contribution to the campaign of radical hope as I have defined it above. My artworks demonstrate the ecological implications of collage, and function as catalysts for engaging others in contemplating the queer ontological shift engendered by collage thinking.

Readings and Resources (that exhibit or are sympathetic to the possibilities of collage thinking):

  • Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics. Paris: Les Presse Du Reel, 1998.
  • Burroughs, William S. Naked Lunch. New York: Grove Press, 1992.
  • Cage, John. 4’ 33”. Leipzig: C.F. Peters Ltd. & Co. KG, 2012.
  • Cage, John. Litany for the Whale. Leipzig: C.F. Peters Ltd. & Co. KG, 1980.
  • Caulfield, Sean. The Flood, 2016. Hand-carved woodblock panel. 6 x 9 m. Edmonton, Alberta, Art Gallery of Alberta.
  • de Maria, Walter. The Lightning Field, 1977. Land art work. 1 mile x 1 kilometre. Catron Country, New Mexico.
  • Morton, Timothy. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World.Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.
  • Scriabin, Aleksandr. Mysterium, 1903-1915. New York: G. Schirmer, Inc. 1915.
  • Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. London: Penguin Classics, 2003.
  • Solaris. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. 1972. New York: The Criterion Collection, Inc., 2002. DVD.


The Rise of Optimism in the Conservation Movement

Elin Kelsey

Paper: Crowd-sourcing hope and cultivating interspecies relationships in the Age of the Anthropocene and the Digital Revolution


The Digital Revolution is unleashing new understandings about life on Earth that rival the impact of the 15th Century discoveries of Columbus and Magellan (Arts, van der Wal & Adams, 2015). This new wild world is not the passive, subservient, humans-at-the-top version described in Aristotle’s great chain of being (Henning, 2014). It is a world where humpback whales use their social networks to improve their populations’ recoveries and mother trees distribute their energy across their root networks to improve the resilience of the forest. It is a world filled with the capacity to act and interact. And all that action and interaction creates resiliency in circumstances we might never have imagined.

Yet environmental news in mainstream media continues to be overwhelmingly reported as “bad news.” (Project for improved environmental coverage, 2015; McCluskey, Swinnen & Vandemoortele, 2015). And, doom and gloom remains the de facto environmental narrative not only for the ways in which we communicate environmental issues but also for the ways in which a range of environmental disciplines frame their fields of study. Environmental issues are real and horrific. But failing to separate the urgency of environmental issues from the fear-inducing ways we communicate them, blinds us to the collateral damage of apocalyptic storytelling. Hopelessness undermines the very engagement with environmental issues we seek to create.

In this paper, I describe the rise of optimism in the conservation movement. In 2014, I co-launched a twitter tag in an effort to crowd source and share examples of hopeful conservation successes (Kelsey, 2016). #OceanOptimism reached more than 75 million people in its first two years. It continues to spread across instagram, snapchat and other social media platforms and has sparked new campaigns for #EarthOptimism, #ConservationOptimism, #ClimateOptimism and more. This groundswell of optimism is sweeping through the global environmental community and has been embraced by leading public institutions including the Zoological Society of London and the Smithsonian Institution.

The rise of optimism embodies a revolutionary appreciation of the active capacity of other species and ecosystems to heal. Not in the superficial, “the earth will heal itself” rhetoric that abdicates human responsibility, but through a far-reaching recognition of recent breakthroughs in the study of the cognitive, social, emotional, and cultural experiences of other species.

How do you define radical hope?

I contend that it is not hope that is radical in the Age of the Anthropocene.  What is radical is seeking to topple anthroparchy and its deeply entrenched belief in the superiority of humans over other species. Recognizing agency and self-efficacy in the other-than-human world, and creating sustainability practices and policies that amplify this collective capacity for resilience is fraught and radical – and long overdue.

How do you see radical hope emerging or playing out in your case study?

Life in the Anthropocene demands an embrace of the complexity, specificity and ambiguity of inter-species relationships. It challenges us to include the nonhuman world in pressing political, social, economic and cultural issues (Holm and Taffel, 2016). The most recent estimate puts the total number of species living on planet Earth at 8.7 million (Mora et al, 2011). These millions of species are active participants in the world. They drive resilience and recovery.

In this case study I argue that social networks – in both human digital and non-human cultural contexts – hold promise for sourcing and spreading conservation solutions which in turn beget hope.


  • Elin Kelsey giving a keynote on Wild Contagious Hope at the UN Life Below Water conference in Malmo, Sweden October 2017
  • Read how others feel about hope and the environment on this exhibit created by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society.
  • Follow #OceanOptimism on twitter, Instagram, Facebook or snapchat
  • Watch this TED talk by Suzanne Simmard about how trees talk to each other through social networks
  • Watch this video on the capacity  of whales to change climate
  • Read (or listen) to this article on humpback whales and compassion
  • Read this editorial on emotions and environmental education from the Canadian Journal of Environmental Education Vol 21 (2016)
  • Watch this interview on hope and the environment with Elin Kelsey on The Green Interview.
  • Visit this website on Earth Optimism:

Radical Hope in Turbulent Times: Sources of Inspiration from Politics to Poetry

John Barry

WB Yeats, ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Hope Is The Thing With Feathers, Emily Dickinson

‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—
And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—
I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

In the turbulent times we live in and the uneven and unjust production and experience of social, economic and ecological harms, hope in all its manifestations is both available (if we look hard enough for it) and much needed.    

How do you define radical hope?

​The inspiration behind this workshop, and my own interest and work on ‘radical hope’ is based on that concept which came across almost a decade ago when I first read Jonathan Lear’s remarkable book, Radical Hope. In that book, Lear outlines a peculiar human vulnerability, one which all papers touch upon in different ways. As Lear puts it

“We seem to acquire it [this vulnerability as a result of the fact that we essentially inhabit a way of life. Humans are by nature cultural animals: we necessarily inhabit a way of life that is expressed in a culture. But our way of life –whatever it is– is vulnerable in various ways. And we, as participants in that way of life, thereby inherit a vulnerability. Should that way of life break down, that is our problem” (2006: 6).

This leads him, and us, to a troubling existential blind spot within (most) human cultures “the inability to conceive of its own destruction and possible extinction” (2006: 83). This means, for example, that we do not typically prepare our younger generation to consider or to prepare for the possible eventuality of our way/s of life, the terms and practices we use to render such ways of life, of common goods etc. to be vulnerable, so vulnerable they might, someday disappear completely. This ‘ontological insecurity’, to paraphrase Anthony Giddens, is not something we usually or usually willingly do. It is speculative (it may not happen, so why worry about it?), it is worrying and disturbing – hence thinking about possible futures might compromise one’s enjoyment of their present), and even if there are troubling times ahead human ingenuity, improvisation and resilience coupled with technological innovation will ‘take care of it’.  Radical hope for me is not the same as optimism. As Vaclav Havel so perceptively put it “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out”.

In this way ‘radical hope’ is a clear eyed recognition of the problems we face, a courageous and explicit disavowal of the temptations of a naïve (and at times dangerous) assumption that ‘all will be well’, but nevertheless a belief in the capacity of human agency.  Hope, as Emily Dickinson, put it “is the thing with feathers”. Or as Lear notes, “What makes this hope radical is that it is directed toward a future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is. Radical hope anticipates a good for which those who have the hope as yet lack the appropriate concepts with which to understand it” (2006: 103).

How do you see radical hope emerging or playing out in your case study?

Politically, my main area of interest and concern, there is much work to be done in establishing a critical, inspiring and realistic ‘infrastructure of hope’ which I view as allowing for a dialogue around new ideas about we organise the economy, conceive of a ‘good life’, reconfigure our democratic politics and so on.   In the realm of ideas and the politically feasible there is a crying need for unleashing creativity and rethinking and repurposing established ways of ideas, practices and frames of reference. Our crisis is as much a crisis of creativity as it is a crisis of capitalism, the decline in a belief in collective change, climate change and so on.   Such a creative dialogue to establish an ‘infrastructure of hope’ calls for public i.e. political debate and hybridisation and interdisciplinary cross-pollination between science, technology, philosophy, ethics, with participants from faith communities, those of no faith, citizens, experts, civil servants, business, trades unions, teachers, academics and students and many more besides.  In short, radical hope and the creation of an infrastructure of hope may call for something akin to a new Renaissance or Enlightenment. A new Enlightenment however based more on modesty and critical self-reflection than the often bullish and arrogant anthropocentrism of ‘the Anthropocene’. Radical hope in our turbulent times I would suggest calls us to reflect less on how we as a species can control or manage the planet, to ‘take hold of the tiller of creation’ as Teilhard de Chardin put it.  Perhaps it calls us to manage that for which we need no new technology or science, to manage not the planet or the more that human world, but rather to manage our relationships (both material-metabolic, conceptual and moral) with the earth, its entities and processes. And, while the reappraisal of our relationships is a quintessentially political act, and thus ‘radical’ in the Latin sense of ‘getting to the root’ of the problem, the sense of hope outlined here is radical in another sense.

This is the sense of hope as an antidote to the dangers (or comforting temptations) of what can be a debilitating negativity in forensically detailing all the problems of the current time.  Hope here is a virtue guarding against the political and intellectual vice of dwelling in a self-righteous negativity, to ‘curse the dark’ but without also ‘lighting a candle’ for fear of being seen (or self-regarded) as naïve, politically or ideologically motivated or even ‘utopian’.  Here what makes this hope radical is in the sense that Raymond Williams so aptly put it:

“To be truly radical is to make hope possible,

rather than despair convincing”.


  • Sharon Astyk (2008), Depletion & Abundance: Life on the New Home Front (New Society Publishers).
  • Vaclav Havel (1985), The Power of the Powerless (London: Routledge).
  • Vaclav Havel (1986), Living in Truth (London: Faber and Faber).
  • Rob Hopkins (2008), The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Totnes: Green Books).
  • Gerry O’Hanlon SJ (ed) (2017), A Dialogue of Hope: Critical Thinking for Critical Times (Dublin: Messenger Publications).
  • Pope Francis (2015), Laudato ‘Si: Care for our Common Home, available at:
  • Jonathan Lear (2008) Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (Harvard University Press).
  • Alastair McIntosh (2004), Soil and Soul:  People Versus Corporate Power (Aurum Press)
  • Susan Sontag (1978), Illness as Metaphor, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
  • Raymond Williams (1989), Resources of Hope: Culture, Democracy, Socialism (London: Verso).
  • The poetry of William Butler Yeats and Padraig Kavanagh
  • Marvin Gaye’s 1971 album – What’s Going On
  • Henryk  Górecki’s Symphony No. 3: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs
  • Dr Seuss’ The Lorax,  


Looking at the ordinary – a tender practice of forging relationships

Tania Katzschner 


We live in truly perilous times with rapidly worsening social and ecological conditions. It is not difficult to feel deep despair as we gaze upon the world we currently inhabit. Although we are surrounded by plans, solutions, a sense of urgency, sometimes outrage, intentions, critiques, protests, and ‘wars’ on everything, we are somehow failing to meet the growing world crisis at social, political, economic and environmental levels. This paper, and corresponding section, explore how to inspire actionable hope and avoid propelling the same old patterns into the future and how to go beyond the questions of the present.

This moment poses challenges for which we possess neither effective knowledge nor adequate practices. In this context of crises, the promise of modernization no longer appears persuasive and our universal ‘one-world’ world is being challenged with an unprecedented degree of publicity for the first time and this paper argues that this possibility needs to be cared for. This moment invites us to create the means for posing problems differently.

This section of the course attempts to do this by reflecting on the practices and sensibilities of a transformative urban nature project in Cape Town. The project risked slowing down to nurture profound levels of observation and conversation in order to protect capabilities for flourishing. The project created spaces for competing ideas, discussion and debate and helped create conditions where anything could happen, especially that which is beyond our limited knowledge of cause and effect.

This section searches for the art of fostering possibilities and argues that the art of paying attention must be reclaimed to nurture well-being and in order to work towards a more life-sustaining world.

How do you define radical hope?

Seeing success as elusive practices such as conversation and relationship rather than infrastructural and material changes.

How do you see radical hope emerging or playing out in your case study?

Different ways of being together is called for. This is a fundamental change in order to meet what is coming towards us. This shift in quality also emerges from the insistence on the idea of ‘practice’ instead of ‘guidelines’ or ‘models’. Radical hope is also about resisting the constant need for intervention – but rather embracing aspects of the uncertain.


The case study depicts the practices and sensibilities of a transformative urban nature project in Cape Town. The projects moves forward not with the aim of finding solutions but with the aim of understanding problems. It pays attention to the ordinary everyday and works towards a delicate subtle activism.

Readings, videos, movies, artworks

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Eisenstein, Charles – Nov 2016

Haraway, D (2010) ‘When species meet: Staying with the trouble’, in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, volume 28, number 1, pp 53-5.

Donna Haraway lectures at the San Francisco Art Institute, April 25, 2017.

‘Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene’

Joint Visiting Artists and Scholars and Graduate Lecture Series Event


Kaplan, A and S Davidoff (2014) A Delicate Activism- A Radical Approach to Change, published by the Proteus Initiative

Katzschner T (2013) ‘Cape Flats Nature: Rethinking Urban Ecologies’ in L. Green (ed) Contested Ecologies : dialogues in the south on nature and knowledge, Cape Town: HSRC Press.

Layne, T (2013) ‘Ordinary Magic: The Alchemy of Biodiversity and Development in Cape Flats Nature’ in SOLUTIONS for a sustainable and desirable future, Volume 4, issue 3, pp 84-92.

Paddock, T (2015) ‘Is Democracy an Enemy of Nature?’, post on Organisation Unbound, January 2015.

[online] available at:

Stengers, I (2014) ‘Gaia: The urgency to think and feel’.

[online] available at:

Listening Carefully

Carsten Wergin 

In this contribution, I draw on entangled ethnographic moments recorded in October 2015 in Heidelberg (Germany) and May 2017 in the Kimberley region in Northwest Australia. I argue that respectful and careful listening (to others) is a crucial skill through which to inspire radical hope. Commonly rendered invisible by an overemphasis on representationalism, in particular ill-defined ‘opportunities’ for economic development, my aim is to bring to the forefront practices of sonic engagement with/in the world as significant performative means to counter large-scale industrialization proposals.

How do you define radical hope?

As that which can stem from (radical) collaboration and co-becoming fostered by listening carefully.

How do you see radical hope emerging or playing out in your case study?

  1. In the truths of myths and storytelling that contest the dwelling of allegedly objective matters of fact,
  2. In the sonic intra-actions of diverse collaborators and their value regimes that hint towards new forms of onto-epistemic partnership.

In the video below I speak about how to address these issues ethnographically, with reference to my work in the Kimberley (Northwest Australia):

  • Carsten Wergin (2017) How Can Australian Indigenous Experience Change Western Perspectives of the World? Latest Thinking (Open Access Video Journal), LT Video Publication, DOI:
  • The film Naji (2015) is set at the Kimberley coast and shares a story about Bugarrigarra (Creation Time) in Northwest Australia:

Selected Readings