Summer Institute in Environmental Humanities

The Colby Summer Institute in Environmental Humanities gathers scholars from around the globe to collectively explore how the Environmental Humanities contribute to the theorization, imagination, and practice of socially just and ecologically hopeful futures for humans and nonhumans. We are excited to announce that the application period for the 2023 Colby Summer Institute in Environmental Humanities is now open. If you are an academic, artist, activist, or independent scholar with a passion for the environmental humanities, we invite you to join us in beautiful Maine from July 31 – August 6 2023, for a week of seminars, lectures, workshops, field trips, and other events.

The fourth annual Summer Institute seminar leaders will be Brian Burkhart, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Interim Director of the Native Nations Center at the University of Oklahoma; Ursula K. Heise, Professor of English and Marcia H. Howard Chair in Literary Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles; Barbara Muraca, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon; and Craig Santos Perez, Associate Professor of English at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa.

Seminar Leaders

Brian Burkhart​

Brian Burkhart

University of Oklahoma

Dr. Burkhart is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and has taught at OU since 2018. Before that he was Director and Associate Professor of American Indian Studies at California State University, Northridge. His research specialization is in Native American and Indigenous philosophy, specifically Indigenous land-based conceptions of well-being and environmental ethics. His 2019 book, Indigenizing Philosophy through the Land: A Trickster Methodology for Decolonizing Environmental Ethics and Indigenous Futures, claims that land is key to both the operations of coloniality as well the anti-colonial power that grounds Indigenous liberation. Land as a material, conceptual, and ontological foundation for Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and valuing provides a framework for Indigenous environmental ethics that can also function as an anti-colonial force for sovereign Indigenous futures. His current book project, As Strong as the Land that Made You: Native American and Indigenous Philosophies of Well-Being through the Land extends the land-based methodologies into reflections on both environmental and individual health for Native people and Native Nations. Burkhart is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma with roots in the Jaybird Creek community of Northeastern Oklahoma as well as the Indian Wells community of the Navajo Nation in Arizona. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Indiana University.

Ursula K. Heise​

Ursula K. Heise

University of California, Los Angeles

Ursula K. Heise is the Chair of the Department of English and professor at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. She is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow and former President of ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment). Her research and teaching focus on contemporary literature and the environmental humanities; environmental literature, arts, and cultures in the Americas, Western Europe and Japan; literature and science; science fiction; and narrative theory. She is editor of the series Natures, Cultures, and the Environment with Palgrave, and co-editor of the series Literature and Contemporary Thought with Routledge. She is co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities (2016) and Managing Editor of Futures of Comparative Literature: The ACLA Report on the State of the Discipline (2017). Her books include Chronoschisms: Time, Narrative, and Postmodernism (Cambridge University Press, 1997), Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (Oxford University Press, 2008), Nach der Natur: Das Artensterben und die moderne Kultur (After Nature: Species Extinction and Modern Culture, Suhrkamp, 2010) and, just out, Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Barbara Muraca​

Barbara Muraca

University of Oregon

Barbara Muraca is Associate Professor of Philosophy. Her research focuses on Environmental and Social Philosophy, Process Philosophy, and Political Ecology. Prior to working at University of Oregon she was Assistant Professor of Environmental and Social Philosophy at Oregon State University and Senior Researcher (Post-Doc) at the Center for Advanced Studies ‘Post-growth Societies’ at the Institute of Sociology of the University of Jena, Germany. Muraca received her MA in Philosophy from the University of Turin, Italy, and her Ph.D. from the University of Greifswald, Germany. From 2014 to 2020 she was co-director of the International Association for Environmental Philosophy (IAEP). Since Summer 2018 she is a Lead Author of the IPBES assessment on multiple values of nature (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services).

Craig Santos Perez​

Craig Santos Perez

University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa

Craig is an indigenous Chamoru (Chamorro) from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). He is a poet, scholar, editor, publisher, essayist, critic, book reviewer, artist, environmentalist, and political activist. He is a Professor in the English Department at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, where he teaches creative writing, eco-poetry, and Pacific literature. He is affiliate faculty with the Center for Pacific Islands Studies and the Indigenous Politics Program. Craig is the author of two spoken word poetry albums, Undercurrent (2011) and Crosscurrent (2017), and five books of poetry: from unincorporated territory [hacha] (2008), from unincorporated territory [saina] (2010), from unincorporated territory [guma’] (2014), from unincorporated territory [lukao] (2017), and Habitat Threshold (2020). His work has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, French, German, and Spanish. His monograph, Navigating Chamoru Poetry: Indigeneity, Aesthetics, and Decolonization (2022) was published by the Critical Issues of Indigenous Studies series at the University of Arizona Press.

2022 Summer Institute

In 2022, we returned to a full in-person experience for a week of exciting events and thought-provoking conversations. The 2022 seminar leaders were Sunil Amrith, Professor of History at Yale University; Mel Chen, Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture at the University of California, Berkeley; Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Professor of English at the University of California; and Kathryn Yusoff, Professor of Inhuman Geography at Queen Mary University of London.


2021 Summer Institute

As has been the case with so many academic events, the 2021 Summer Institute in the Environmental Humanities was modified by the pandemic, adopting a hybrid format to support the safest possible experience for all participants. The 2021 guest lecturers were Stacy Alaimo, Professor of English and Core Faculty Member in Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon; Bishnupriya Ghosh, Professor of English and Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara; and Imre Szeman, Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Waterloo. There was also a spotlight lecture by Krushil Watene, Associate Professor of Humanities Media and Creative Communications at Massey University in New Zealand. 

2019 Summer Institute