The Environmental Arts and Humanities (EAH) Initiative hosted its fifth annual Graduate Conference on May 30, 2019. Each year EAH invites graduate students from universities in the Pacific Northwest to share their work and get professional experience presenting and participating in a conference. This year, master and PhD students from Oregon State University, Portland State University, University of Oregon, and Pacific Northwest College of Art gathered in the Memorial Union at Oregon State University.

At the beginning of the conference, Jacob Hamblin, director of Environmental Arts and Humanities, welcomed participants and reminded them that part of becoming a conference goer is formulating and asking questions of presenters. In fact, the whole conference is designed to give students the professional experience they’ll need to participate in conferences during their academic and professional careers. Students get experience presenting their work, answering questions from the audience, moderating sessions, being on panels, networking, and asking a lot of questions.

Students and scholars are often comfortable asking questions within their own disciplines, but asking across disciplines can be more challenging. Many of the conference questions started with “I don’t know anything about rhetoric/film/poetry/interviews but I’m wondering…” Questions like those are an important step to creating a space where students can talk across disciplines and giving them a sense of what other scholars in the arts and humanities do.

The conference speakers were grouped into thematic sessions to give attendees a sense of how topics can be approached from various perspectives in the arts and humanities. For example, in the opening session, graduate students in writing and rhetoric, environmental arts and humanities, and literature explored environmental justice through three presentations. After each presentation, students answered audience questions about their scholarship and research. And at the end of each session, the presenters participated in a panel and discussed the interconnections of their work. Click here to see the full program.  

Each year the conference features two keynote speakers who provide a glimpse into possible research areas and career paths in the environmental arts and humanities. This year the afternoon keynote was Lissy Goralnik, assistant professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University, who presented on People, Place, and Purpose: Relationships in Environmental Arts and Humanities. And in the evening, writer Rebecca Robinson and photographer Stephen Strom presented stories and images from their book Voices from Bears Ears: Seeking Common Ground on Sacred Land.

The date for the 2020 Environmental Arts and Humanities Graduate Conference will be announced in the spring. If you’d like to get involved, please contact Jacob Hamblin, EAH Director.