The mission of Ecological Reflections is to bring the environmental sciences, arts, and humanities together in long-term attention to places and their cultural and moral meanings, as these change over time and generations.
The Long Term Ecological Reflections Program at H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest speaks for the network as a whole in their beliefs:
- That humanist writers should pay close attention to a particular place—to the mountains, rivers, people, and the forests of the Andrews and its environs—because a close study of place will reveal broader truths that go beyond that place.
- That we should study that place for generations and learn to perceive the temporal dimension—the presence of pasts and futures—through informed observation.
- That storytelling and poetry, observation and experiment, myth and mathematics are all authentic windows on the world.
- That there is an unusual richness and joy in the community of art and science, in the coming together of insights from many different perspectives and disciplines.
- That there is wisdom to be gained; that the more we know about the natural world and the place of humans in the world, the greater our insight into how we ought to live our lives.
But there are countless answers to the question of why Ecological Reflections is an important and helpful framework, as you’ll see in the many diverse sites and programs profiled here.
The concept of a Network of Long-Term Ecological Reflection sites was first advanced at an intimate retreat hosted by Gary Paul Nabhan on Tumamoc Hill in Tucson, Arizona in August of 2010. (The meeting agenda can be found here.) This first effort was intended to honor and build upon the Spring Creek Project’s Long Term Ecological Reflections program, which has added dimensions to the Andrews Forest LTER; however, the gathering envisioned a network that may extend beyond Long Term Ecological Research sites (LTERs) to include sites where early naturalists like Leopold, Thoreau and Shreve took field notes, photos and sketches; and to sites with deep oral histories from current and past residents.
A second meeting was held at the Aldo Leopold Center in September of 2010. Curt Meine, of the Center for Humans and Nature, hosted the meeting. The workshop agenda can be found here.
A third meeting, formed largely by representatives of LTER sites with already existing or significant interest and potential for such programs, was hosted by the Spring Creek Project at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in May 2011. The agenda can be found here.
- “Artists on science: scientists on art“: A whole issue of Nature (March 17, 2005) dedicated to the “increasing awareness on the part of some artists of the heritage of scientists and vice versa. This supplement aims to reflect, and place in context, some of this awareness.” All articles in full online.
- “Artists and Scientists: More Alike Than Different,” John Maeda, Scientific American, July 11, 2013
- “The Humanities and an Environmentally Sustainable Australia” by Tom Griffiths. This fascinating and articulate manifesto explores the rapprochement of science and the humanities, storytelling, ecological humanities, and more.
- The Humanities and Australia’s National Research Priorities. This report includes the essay above, as well as a chapter on “The Role of Humanities Research in Promoting and Maintaining Good Health” and “Frontier Technologies: New media and creative industries.”