Eos Project funds environmental awareness planning and programming projects on campus

Thirteen seed projects in environmental awareness and campus greening have been funded by the Eos Project, an initiative to promote greater understanding of environmental issues through diverse disciplines and channels across Vanderbilt.

“We are taking a broad approach, aiming to implement permanent changes in the curricula, supporting undergrads working on environmental and social justice issues, and also encouraging interdisciplinary dialogue,” said program coordinator Anna Guengerich, research assistant professor of anthropology. “We organize symposia and networking events and give fellowships to faculty and graduate students who are developing their own projects to pursue these broader goals.”

“Eos was the Titan goddess of dawn, who brings the light of a new day,” said director Beth A. Conklin, professor and chair of anthropology. “The Eos Project is about jump-starting environmental awareness all across campus. Climate change connects to almost every discipline and department. We want to empower students and faculty to develop ideas and new initiatives wherever they’re located at Vanderbilt. [rquote]Universities are places for thinking big, about how to make the changes we need for a healthier future. This is the most urgent work we can do.”[/rquote]

The projects, many of which are already underway, include:

Advancing attention to environmental issues in Human and Organizational Development
Ashley Carse, Assistant Professor of Human and Organizational Development; James Fraser, Associate Professor of Human and Organizational Development; and Sara Safransky, Assistant Professor of Human and Organizational Development
Eos funding is supporting a speaker series on Environment, Community and Development with brown-bag conversations on integrating environmental studies into the department’s research methods and curriculum.

At what cost: Assessing the impact of construction, destruction, and heritage preservation on the 21st-century environment
Riyaz Latif, Mellon Assistant Professor of History of Art, and Tracy Miller, Associate Professor of History of Art
Eos funding will support a workshop with scholars who engage with issues of heritage preservation in the Middle East in the context of civil and environmental degradation, and a seminar discussing how to incorporate human ecology into courses on architectural history and the built environment.

Ecological health is population health
John Compton, M.Div student in the Divinity School, and Keith Meador, director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society
Eos funding is supporting interdisciplinary focus groups from across the university and Vanderbilt University Medical Center to heighten awareness around the intersections of ecology and health as a lens for nurturing a vision for population health.

Gardens on the Commons
Laurie Woods, lecturer in sociology, and Tristan Abbott, undergraduate student
This project is engaging first-year students of the Vanderbilt Ingram Commons residential community in discussions about social and environmental issues associated with the agri-food system by starting sustainable container gardens. The produce from these gardens will be used for programming and donated in Nashville.

Greening the Commons
Gregory Melchor-Barz, professor of ethnomusicology and associate professor of anthropology
Students in a Commons seminar this semester are documenting sustainability and environmental concerns at the first-year student residential Commons, to develop a vision and action plan for the future.

History of Earth and life in Provence: Nature, buildings and society
Kevin Murphy, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities and professor of the history of art; and Betsey Robinson, associate professor of history of art
Eos funding will support the development of a Maymester course that will explore the landscapes of southern France in geological time and across human history, sampling human inventions and experiences, from Paleolithic art in caves used for shelter to the Unité d’habitation in Marseille, Le Corbusier’s famous machine for living.

Jeff VanderMeer’s climate fiction: global warming and the Southern Reach trilogy
Rita Bullwinkel, MFA student in English, and Jesse Montgomery, Ph.D. student in English
Eos funding is supporting a reading group of students, staff and faculty centered around a trilogy by climate-fiction author Jeff VanderMeer. VanderMeer will come to campus March 14-15 to discuss his work, its relation to environmental issues – particularly those of the southern United States – and fiction’s role in furthering our understanding of a warming world.

On care for our common home
Bruce Morill, Edward A. Malloy Professor of Catholic Studies
Eos funding will support a series of events bringing expert scholars to campus to honor Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change and his call for an inclusive dialogue about humanity’s role in the present and future condition of Earth.

Seeking new metaphors: mobilizing culture to confront environmental crises
Carwil Bjork-James, assistant professor of anthropology, and Sophie Bjork-James, postdoctoral scholar in anthropology
Through a series of films and talks, this project seeks to create collective conversations that ask: How do we collectively move from recognition of environmental problems to the moral commitment to adequately address these problems?

Teaching ecological thought in the Anthropocene
Anand Taneja, assistant professor of religious studies
Eos funding will support the planning of a course on the relation of the ecological and the sacred. The course will cover recent debates about this issue from a variety of disciplines, including religion, anthropology, philosophy and history.

Urban ecologies: Cities and the production of nature and humanity in the Anthropocene
John Janusek, associate professor of anthropology
This project is developing an immersive course that uses a long-term, global perspective on the origin of cities, to investigate how producing cities entails transformations of local, regional and distant environments, and how cities construct subjects and contribute to uneven distributions of power and resources.

Waste and want: understanding consumption
Carolyn Taratko and J’Nese Williams, Ph.D. students in history
Eos funding is supporting a seminar and film series designed to encourage participants to confront the themes of consumption and status anxiety on the Vanderbilt campus, in modern America and in the world at large.

Worker leadership in the struggle for a just and sustainable food system
Tristan Call, Ph.D. student in anthropology
This project explores the central role played by farm and food processing workers in the struggle for a just and sustainable food system.

The EOS Project is supported by the Lester G. “Ruff” Fant III Arts and Science Dean’s Fund, with additional contributions fromEnvironmental and Sustainability Studies and VUCO2, Vanderbilt’s climate change think tank.