Graeme Wynn Lecture

30 October 2019


Climate protest Perth

Struggles with scale, strategy, and stewardship: fifty years of environmental activism

A public lecture by Graeme Wynn FRSC, Emeritus Professor of Geography, University of British Columbia and 2019 Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow

By common account, environmentalism has had three major concerns: beauty, health, and permanence. Roughly translated these terms mark abiding preoccupations, shared by large numbers of citizens, with issues such as wilderness protection, environmental justice, and sustainability. In one way or another, such concerns are threaded through the recent histories of most parts of the world. They are at the heart of many of the most pressing issues of our times, and they have been the focus of great debates, epic confrontations, and no small amount of political reaction. But the question remains: has half a century of environmental activism made a difference? In working towards a response, this talk considers scale, strategy and stewardship as potential snags upon which the environmental movement has snarled these last few decades.

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).