Project Abstract

The Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability (OESS) and the Center for Religion and Environment (CRE), in collaboration with the School of Theology, propose to host a workshop-conference on conservation and pluralism on the Domain. The workshop will bring together University and community participants, and is expected to contribute to management decisions about the domain and to a wider scholarly conversation on value pluralism in ecology. It is also hoped that a course or courses may emerge from the discussions.

Twenty-five to thirty University educators, administrators, and the students will attend this three-day event, along with representatives of the wider community and an invited facilitator, Ward Cammack. The sponsoring programs — OESS and CRE — will choose a steering committee of interdisciplinary environmental leaders who will determine the workshop’s specific format and attendees. Leaders and attendees will participate in focal groups discussing both potential solutions and practical applications to the Domain. Multiple speakers will help to frame the discussion, introduce outside perspectives, and raise particular considerations and approaches, and the facilitator will help guide conversation towards constructive outcomes.

Project Alignment with the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies

The Collaborative’s goals of multiple perspectives, varied methodologies, real-world application, and placed-based inquiry are intrinsic characteristics of this proposed project. This workshop is an experiment in place-based praxis that defies assumed homogeneous expectations. In addressing the questions “What is the value of this place?” and “How should we relate to this place?” the workshop will touch upon the history and contemporary concerns of the Cumberland plateau and Southern Appalachia more generally. A trans-disciplinary approach including theology and theological ethics, the social sciences, the physical sciences (including, especially, environmental science) will support this project’s objectives and goals, and a diverse group of participants, including faculty, staff, students, and community partners will be invited.

Project Impact

There are several expected outcomes for this project. One will be a reference document for the use of OESS and ideally other parts of the University administration that describes our understanding of the domain and our relation to it. It is expected that this document will help guide decisions regarding uses of the domain, and OESS will be involved in the process of crafting the document to ensure its utility in this regard. It is also hoped that the workshop will produce, or conceive a plan to produce, some scholarly contribution to the discussion of environmental ethical pluralism in conservation and management decisions – a journal article, for example. Finally, some time will be devoted to a discussion of potential course offerings building on the interdisciplinary collaboration of the workshop. It is hoped that a course or courses on this particular place from a variety of disciplinary perspectives may be designed as a result of thi s workshop.

Final Report