Graeme Wynn Masterclass

4 November 2019,
Institute of Advanced Studies, UWA
Honours Students, Postgraduate Students, Early Career Researchers, Academics, Professional Researchers


Image: Hands holding the word hope. by Darren Tunnicliff (CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Darren Tunnicliff (CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Looking Backward to Shape the Future: towards an ecology of hope

An IAS Masterclass with Graeme Wynn FRSC, Emeritus Professor of Geography, University of British Columbia and 2019 Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

As the world seems bound for disaster, if not oblivion, it is easy to despair. But critique and resistance, married with a quest for alternative possibilities, will serve us better than a doleful narrative of decline. One way of finding hope is to re-engage with those who have lamented despoliation and envisaged other, better ways of being in the world. By discovering, interrogating, and drawing insight from the ways in which our precursors sought to emancipate their contemporaries, we can ask what they (or their ideas) can do for us. Although this strategy is unlikely to deliver immediate efficacious solutions to current dilemmas, it can help us to historicize ourselves and the precepts that shape our lives. It can also expand the range of existential possibilities by calling into question the conceited convictions, tired mantras, and blithe assumptions of contemporary economic and political discourse.

This masterclass aims to model such an approach and open up discussion of the larger questions it raises by reflecting on the lives and contributions of two worthy Canadians, an ecologist and a political theorist, whose ideas both cast light on the roots of our present socio-environmental predicament and frame hopeful strategies for its alleviation.

Graeme Wynn (FRSC, Emeritus Professor of Geography, University of British Columbia) trained as an historical geographer, but has had a career-long fascination with and involvement in environmental history. His early work explored forest exploitation, conservation, preservation and management in Canada and New Zealand (Timber Colony, 1981), but Wynn has also published widely in rural/ agricultural, and urban studies, written on the histories of geography, environmental history, and environmentalism, and contributed broadly to Canadian Studies (most recently The Nature of Canada, co-edited with Colin Coates, 2019 and Canada and Arctic North America: An Environmental History, 2007). He was the Brenda and David McLean Chair in Canadian Studies at UBC (2011-13), and general editor of the Nature|History|Society monograph series with UBC Press (currently at 33 volumes).

Public Lecture
30 October
Struggles with Scale, Strategy, and Stewardship: fifty years of environmental activism