Thursday, November 17, 2016

CFP: Land Use and Ethics in Search of a Wild-Earthen God

June 9-11, 2017

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Northern Forest Institute
At Huntington Wildlife Forest

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Northern Forest Institute invites submissions for its fourth symposium of interdisciplinary scholarship in land use and ethics.

Author and environmental activist Wallace Stegner grounded his argument for the protection of wild places in the spiritual imagination. Wilderness was a landscape that he said was worth saving for the likelihood that it might in turn save us soulfully. Stegner is one of many who rest their defense of wilderness on the idea of open plains, deep forests and vast deserts as spiritual centers. Philosopher Henry Bugbee calls us to a sabbatical placement in wild places where the rituals of mindfulness, of acknowledgement, keep faith with the deliverances of solitude.

More than merely employing the language of redemption, these philosophers, writers and activists trace the reverence humans have felt for wild nature from indigenous cultures forward to the men who corrupted Judeo-Christian teachings in order to colonize and devastate them. In every known spiritual tradition, wild geographies are thought to be earthen domains of grace even as we acknowledge a national history of perverting faith traditions in order to subdue and violate other communities who nevertheless share a vision of the value of wild nature.

Wilderness advocates who turn towards the mythical and the spiritual value of these so-called landscapes of hope in fact make an ecological argument that honors the sanctity and the complementarity of all living things with rights to exist independent of species, kind and importantly, extractive human usefulness. The wild as mystical landscape is complex territory, and still pan- cultural theological, spiritual, transcendental and inspirational arguments for land preservation remain one compelling and important moral approach.

We welcome submissions related to the Symposium theme from perspectives including and not limited to Traditional Ecological Knowledge, spiritual ecology, eco-theology, deep ecology, Gaia theory, animism as well as eco-spiritual and theological resistance to industrial, social and political ruin of wild and natural ecosystems. We will accept 15 proposals that together are meant to generate a discussion around this variety of approaches to land use, the moral implications and usefulness of these approaches, as well as the ways that they influence the ongoing debate over how to achieve social and environmental justice. Submissions are encouraged from emerging or established writers and scholars, activists as well as anyone whose primary work lies outside the liberal arts and/or academia.


DEADLINE for submissions is January 15, 2017. All submissions must be submitted as a Word document via e-mail to Symposium Chair Marianne Patinelli-Dubay according to the guidelines below. Acceptance notifications will go out no later than February 15, 2017 along with detailed travel and accommodation information, preliminary information is below.

Electronic submissions require the following: 
  • Title
  • 250 word abstract and paper is not to exceed 4,500 words 
  • Author information:
    • Affiliation (independent writers and scholars are welcome) 
    • Full name
    • Daytime phone
    • E-mail
    • Mailing address


Submissions: One aim of this meeting is to provide a collegial environment for new and in-process work, and for ideas to be offered for comment and critique. If the paper/essay is not completed at the time of submission, the committee will accept an abstract and may contact the author for additional information prior to making a decision. The Symposium Chair will accept electronic submissions and distribute them blindly to the committee.

**Event Style: Authors will not read their work in traditional conference style. Instead, in turn, each participant will present key ideas and questions raised in/by their work that she/he would like to pursue in conversation. In this way, the symposium discussion will be conducted in round-table or seminar fashion and participants will receive a reader including all of the accepted papers no later than April 15, 2017. Participants should read the packet prior to the event in order to allow for full participation in the discussion. Each presentation is meant to further the overall discussion and for this reason, presenters are expected to participate in the entire program scheduled between noon on Friday, June 9 and Sunday, June 11, 2017.

Confirmation: Anyone making a submission will receive confirmation of receipt within 48 hours. If you have not received confirmation of receipt and/or notification regarding the Program Committee’s decision about your submission by February 15, 2017 please contact Marianne Patinelli-Dubay.


  • All correspondence regarding submission and/or program content should be directed to Symposium Chair Marianne Patinelli-Dubay
  • Meals, accommodations will be provided on-site and included in the cost of participation. For information on registration, fees, lodging and accommodations contact Guest Services Manager Daphne Taylor.

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