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The 2023-2024 John W. Altman Program in the Humanities

In an age of environmental peril, what use are the humanities? Environmental problems are often seen as technical challenges requiring scientific expertise. Yet the science establishing climate change and outlining countermeasures has been in place for decades and has received extraordinary public and governmental attention. The relentless warming of Earth in the face of this knowledge reminds us that environmental challenges are also matters of communication, imagination, representation, and justice. Large in scale, entwined with social and cultural institutions, and fundamentally political, they require not only scientific innovation but also expertise in language, law, rhetoric, philosophy, and culture. Indeed, addressing climate change may require nothing short of a new planetary social compact for the use of natural resources, negotiated across hundreds of societies, each with its own traditions, cultures, geographical limitations, and internal divisions.  This project can succeed only through extraordinary intellectual collaboration—the marriage of scientific advances with visionary conceptions of the future, deep knowledge of human history, and a capacity to forge a new ethics of human responsibility for all Earth’s inhabitants, present and future. While the scale of the challenge is unprecedented, much of the knowledge it demands has been the subject of  humanistic inquiry for millennia.

The 2023-2024 Altman Program invites the Miami University community to join an urgent, transdisciplinary conversation on environmental justice. What political, economic, conceptual, and cultural barriers stifle the realization of an environmentally just and sustainable society? What is the meaning of “justice” at the astonishing scale of the planet? What ethical frameworks and imaginative interventions are essential to facing the environmental challenges of our time?  What can we learn from the history of human responses to social and ecological peril? And how can scholars, students, and the public forge a more just and sustainable future for our planet?
overlooking a group of people in a boat floating on the ocean
Sunil Amrith
Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History at Yale University

Why Migration Matters for Environmental Justice

September 12, 2023 5:00 PM
Armstrong Student Center Pavilion C
overlooking a group of people in a boat floating on the ocean
David Schlosberg
Professor of Environmental Politics, University of Sydney, and Director of the Sydney Environment Institute

Meanings of Environmental Justice in Contemporary Practice

September 25, 2023 5:00 PM
Shriver Dolibois AB
overlooking a group of people in a boat floating on the ocean
Julian Yates
H. Fletcher Brown Professor of English and Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware

Noah's Arkive: Stories of Survival During Climate Catastrophe

October 11, 2023 5:00 PM
Armstrong Student Center Pavilion C
overlooking a group of people in a boat floating on the ocean
Winona LaDuke
Activist and Author

The Next Energy Economy: Grassroot Strategies and the Future of Environmental Justice

October 24, 2023 7:00 PM
Armstrong Student Center, Wilks Theater
overlooking a group of people in a boat floating on the ocean
Sandra Steingraber
Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Environmental Studies and Science at Ithaca College

To Sin by Silence: The Legacy of Rachel Carson in an Age of Climate Emergency

November 14, 2023 7:00 PM
Armstrong Student Center Pavilion C
overlooking a group of people in a boat floating on the ocean
Latoya Ruby Frazier
Award-Winning Artist

Art as Transformation: Using Photography to Effect Change

February 29, 2024 6:00 PM
Armstrong Student Center Pavilion C
overlooking a group of people in a boat floating on the ocean
Julie Sze
Professor of American Studies and Director of the Environmental Justice Project at the University of California, Davis

Climate Justice as Freedom

March 19, 2024 5:00 PM
Shriver Center Heritage Room
overlooking a group of people in a boat floating on the ocean
Elizabeth Rush
Author and Assistant Professor of Nonfiction Writing, Brown University

Creation and Community at the Ends of the Earth

April 2, 2024 5:00 PM
Armstrong Student Center Pavilion C
overlooking a group of people in a boat floating on the ocean
Jennifer James
Associate Professor of English, George Washington University

Black Ecofeminism and Abolitionist Ecology

April 18, 2024 5:00 PM
Shriver Center Heritage Room
overlooking a group of people in a boat floating on the ocean
Michelle Neely
Associate Professor of English, Connecticut College

"Everything is Going to Have to Be Put Back": Responsibility and Repair in the Anthropocene

April 19, 2024 1:00 PM
Shriver Center Heritage Room

2023-2024 Altman Fellows

Ryan Gunderson

Ryan Gunderson, Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Justice, has published more than 60 articles in journals including Environmental Politics, Journal of Cleaner Production, Organization & Environment. His books include Hothouse Utopia: Dialectics Facing Unsavable Futures (Zero Books, 2021) and Making the Familiar Strange: Sociology Contra Reification (Routledge, 2020) and, as co-author, The Degrowth Alternative (Routledge, 2020) and Climate Change Solutions: Beyond the Capital-Climate Contradiction (Michigan, 2020). In 2019 he won the Early Career Award from the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences, and in 2020 received the Miami University Junior Faculty Scholar Award.

Michele Navakas

Michele Navakas, Professor of English, is the author of Coral Lives: Literature, Labor, and the Making of America (Princeton, 2023) and Liquid Landscape: Geography and Settlement at the Edge of Early America (U of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). She is currently working on a study of early twentieth-century reading habits and the emergence of ecology as a popular concept in the United States.

2023-2024 Altman Graduate Fellows

Conner Moore

Conner Moore is a doctoral student in English literature. He received his M.A. in English literature from Miami University. His primary research interests include the decadent movement in nineteenth-century British and French literature, gender and sexuality studies, and Marxist theory. 

Casey Olthaus

Casey Olthaus is an M.A. student in history and women, gender, and sexuality studies. She received her B.A. in history and sociology from the University of Cincinnati. Her research interests include applied feminist thought, queer theory, and the medical humanities.

2023-2024 Geoffrion Family Fellows

Annalise Chapdelaine

Annalise Chapdelaine is a senior honors student majoring in diplomacy and global politics, comparative religion, and German. She is a Presidential Fellow and a student research intern with Dr. Hillel Gray's "Empathy and the Religious Enemy project. Her research interests include ethnic nationalism, human rights and migration, conflict resolution, and Eastern and Central European studies.

Caleb Chun

Caleb Chun is a junior undergraduate student majoring in professional writing and history. He is also minoring in anthropology. His primary research interest is seventeenth-century East Asian history. He is currently focusing on the Imjin War, a conflict between Joseon Dynasty Korea and Japan's Toyotomi Dynasty.

Mollie Duffy

Mollie Duffy is a junior honors student majoring in public administration. She is a civic engagement fellow at the Wilks Institute for Leadership and Service and holds two national fellowships with Civic Influencers and the Transformative Justice Coalition. She also serves on the Armstrong Student Center Board. Her research interests include election law and evaluating the effectiveness of United Nations policy.

Sam Fouts

Sam Fouts is a senior honors student studying literature and creative writing. He is interested in non-human perspectives in Medieval literature and his own work. His fiction is published in Sky Island Journal, The Drabble, and Flash Fiction Magazine.

Meredith Perkins

Meredith Perkins is a junior Presidential Fellow majoring in diplomacy and global politics and creative writing with minors in history and French. An alumna of the Prodesse Scholar and Scholar Leader programs, she currently writes for The Miami Student and consults at the Howe Writing Center. Her research interests include post-communism in Eastern Europe, identity politics, and authoritarianism.

Ryan Rosu

Ryan Rosu is a senior honors student majoring in English literature, philosophy, and film studies. He is the president of Zero Waste Oxford. His research interests include film history, modern philosophy, punk, and queerness in media.

Brian Vogt

Brian Vogt is a senior honors student with majors in creative writing and individualized studies: found object art. Brian has worked with world-renowned artist Ron Fondaw to create a sustainable sculpture out of adobe clay at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton, Ohio, where he also teaches found object workshops to kids. He recently created a sculpture composed of litter he found on Miami’s campus entitled The Student Body.

2023-2024 Altman Scholars