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September 17, 2020

The Humanities Center at Texas Tech University

A Lecture and Discussion series. The Fall 2020 program archived here ran from September 17 through November 12. The Spring 2021 program is forthcoming.

Forests podcast

Forests are microcosms of Gaia, the planetary system that emerges from the totality of living beings and the sum of their environmental modulations to produce and sustain habitable conditions for the current biosphere. Over geological time, Gaia has been doing its best to cool the planet against the ever-increasing luminosity of the sun. Drawing down atmospheric carbon for eons, Gaia has operated to keep the planetary climate comfortably cool. In this light, forest ecosystems may be considered as Gaian subsystems, each one cooling and humidifying the planetary surface in its vicinity, building up complex, diverse, and desirable habitats--but only as long as they’re left intact. The repercussions of the forests’ climate maintenance extend far beyond their own borders. They are planet makers in their own right, and their loss would be not merely a regional but a planetary catastrophe in the making.

The Humanities Center at Texas Tech’s annual theme for 2020-2021 is Forests. All this academic year, we will be thinking about forests—what they are, how they work--especially when they are healthy, how we have always lived in their shadow and under their shade even while we took them for granted, and why their preservation truly matters. We will also be thinking with forests in order to come to grips with the contemporary state of the biosphere at large and how we humans, the beneficiaries and the consumers of forests, might proceed from here, might learn things from the trees and the forests to make positive differences in face of the ecological challenges we currently confront.

Director: Bruce Clarke

Team: Curtis Bauer, Michael Borshuk, Sankar Chatterjee, Sara Spurgeon, Christopher Witmore

Additional Details: The Humanities Center at Texas Tech

September / Forests & the Earth

Welcome to the Forests theme

View event.

Thursday, September 17, 7:30 pm

A discussion of Intelligent Trees: The Documentary, featuring forest ecologist Suzanne Simard and forester Peter Wohlleben.

Moderator: Bruce Clarke

The Evolution and Ecology of Forests

View event. Caveat: Dr. Chatterjee's slideshow was not shared. Pardon the omission.

Thursday, September 24, 7:00 pm

  • Sankar Chatterjee, Geosciences, TTU, "The Origin and Evolution of Forests"
  • John Zak, Biological Sciences, TTU, "The Fungal Ecology of Forests"
  • Dylan Schwilk, Biological Sciences, TTU, "Fire and the Forest 'Sky Islands' of West Texas and the Southwest"

Moderator: Bruce Clarke

October / Forests & the Human

Pisgah National Forest: A Web Exhibition

View event.

Thursday, October 15, 7:30 pm

Moderator: Bruce Clarke

Becoming Sensor for a Planthroposcene

Thursday, October 22, 7:30 pm

View event.

Moderator: Bruce Clarke

November / Native Land Practices: Indigenous Cuisine and Forest Care

Tree Food: Forests, Indigenous American Cuisines, and Native Food Sovereignty

Thursday, November 5, 7:30 pm

View event.

Moderators: Sara Spurgeon and Vickie Sutton

Forest Restoration Theory and Practice Based on Indigenous Cultural Tending

Thursday, November 12, 7:30 pm

View event.

  • Lee Klinger, Independent Scientist, Sudden Oak Life, Big Sur, CA

Moderators: Bruce Clarke and Vickie Sutton