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A year ago, in October 2014, a small interdisciplinary group of humanities and social science scholars at Carleton met to discuss climate change. We wanted to consider what scholars in a range of disciplines, many of which were not the traditional disciplines of climate change research or action, could do to address climate change issues. This meeting was the beginning of the Carleton Climate Commons Working Group. The discussion was wide-ranging and many of the ideas raised at that first small meeting were realized in the following weeks and months.

The Climate Commons is now composed of close to 80 faculty and graduate students representing almost all of the departments and schools in the humanities and social sciences at Carleton. We bring together members of the Carleton community to discuss climate change issues, to share academic work, and to share ideas and articles. The university has long been the place our society dedicates to addressing issues of vital importance. Climate change is one of those issues. The Working Group, then, is a forum for exploring the role of the humanities and social sciences in the pressing climate change conversations of our time.

Participants at the Fossil Fuel Divestment Roundtable. Photo by Taylor Donaldson.

Participants at the Fossil Fuel Divestment Roundtable. Photo by Taylor Donaldson.

Last year we organized two roundtables: a Pedagogy and Climate Change Roundtable in the Fall of 2014 and a Roundtable on Fossil Fuel Divestment in the Winter of 2015. (Click here for more information on fossil free divestment and here for the Carleton Fossil Free Faculty information.) We also hosted an Energy East Pipeline Information Session and several reading groups including, last Spring, a university-wide discussion of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything. This coming year continues and extends many of the initiatives begun in 2014-15 as follows:

  • Building on the interest in pedagogy and climate change at our first roundtable, this fall we have put together a Roundtable on Curriculum and Climate Change that will be held on 4 December 2015 (Loeb A410). The speakers will be Chris Russill (Journalism and Communication), Emilie Cameron (DGES), Peter Thompson (Canadian Studies), and Noel Salmond (Religion). Everyone is welcome to join the conversation.
  • Franny Nudelman (English) and Peter Thompson are organizing Coordinated Curriculum Planning between classes in 2015-16. At the end of the year they hope to present an exhibit of students’ work.
  • A Documentary Film Series begins this Fall. The upcoming films are: Watermark moderated by Peter Thompson on 20 October; Surviving Progress moderated by Alan Nymark (Film) on 19 November, and Chasing Ice moderated by Lisa Glithero (Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa) on 10 December. All of these films will be screened at the Discovery Centre at MacOdrum Library at 7:30. Admission is free and open to all.
  • The fall film series will be followed by a Non-Documentary Film Series on climate change in the winter (films are still TBD but all suggestions are welcome).
  • This winter we will also host a Food Roundtable organized and moderated by Irena Knezevic (Journalism and Communication). This roundtable will bring together academics and non-academics to discuss food security, the politics of food, and food in our everyday life here at Carleton in relation to climate change. The line-up of speakers will be announced soon.
  • We will also continue to run reading groups in the coming year, support existing climate change research, speakers, and action at Carleton, and reach out to the broader community in the coming years.
Fossil Fuel Divestment Roundtable. Photo by Taylor Donaldson.

Fossil Fuel Divestment Roundtable. Photo by Taylor Donaldson.

If you would like to join our group, help with any of the events noted above, suggest other events, or would like any further information please email us at Please note that you do not have to be engaged in scholarly work on climate change to be involved with this group. We all have a stake in climate change and anyone who is interested in social change in any of its diverse dimensions can be involved. The way that social problems are represented (in psychology, literature, philosophy, history, etc), after all, shapes the solutions that we can imagine. Please see our website for more information (our website was created with the support of Stuart Murray’s Digital Rhetorics + Ethics Lab).

The Carleton Climate Commons is specifically focused on the contribution that scholars and others working in the humanities and social sciences can make to the climate change discussion. It is a response to our shared sense that the university offers a unique forum for the pursuit of such discussions and our desire to open up the climate change conversation to a broader range of issues and approaches. Contact us and join the conversation (

The post FASS Blog – Starting a Carleton Conversation: The Carleton Climate Commons Working Group by Professor Barbara Leckie appeared first on Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.