Aarhus University Seal

Emma Marris: Conservation Values In Tension: Can America Move Beyond Wilderness?


Info about event


Monday 5 December 2022,  at 13:15 - 14:15


Department of Mathematics, Ny Munkegade 118, building 1531-119, aud. D2 + Zoom

Bio: Emma Marris is a writer and author originally from Seattle, Washington. She has written about the entanglements between humans and nonhumans for many magazines and newspapers, including National Geographic, Wired, the New York Times, Nature, and the Atlantic. She has also published in Conservation Science and Practice, Environmental Ethics, Restoration Ecology, Ethics, Policy & Environment, and others. She has a Master’s in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University. In 2021, she published her second book, Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World.


For generations, North American conservationists have venerated wilderness and naturalness - most often defined as a lack of human influence. In particular, many conservation efforts have been explicitly organized around the idea of returning ecosystems to the way they looked and functioned at times in the past - usually at or around the moment of European contact. In the last 30 years, this approach has begun to unravel a bit. In 2022, most conservationists now admit that Indigenous land managers had influence over at least some North American systems, and that the continent was not a "pristine" wilderness at the time of contact. Philosophically, there is increased interest in rejecting the human/nature duality and imagining good or desirable ecosystem states that include ongoing intervention by humans - especially since climate change increasingly precludes complete return to a particular historical state. But translating this enthusiasm to practice or policy is proving more difficult.

Hosts: Postdoc Erick Lundgren & Prof. Jens-Christian Svenning, Department of Biology, Aarhus University.