Kira West Phil '18, right, with Bridget Adenjanyu and Bridget Awosika of Adeyemi College of Education in Ondo, Nigeria at the 23rd International Conference of the Society for Human Ecology in Lisbon, Portugal.Kira West Phil '18, right, with Bridget Adenjanyu and Bridget Awosika of Adeyemi College of Education in Ondo, Nigeria at the 23rd International Conference of the Society for Human Ecology in Lisbon, Portugal. Credit: Jose Luis Elvas

“Navigating Complexity: Human-Environmental Solutions for a Challenging Future” explored a vast array of interdisciplinary solutions to, and perspectives on, many complex challenges around the globe. COA students, alumni, and faculty joined a crowd of several hundred at Universidade NOVA de Lisboa to learn, network, and present on issues like socially responsible business, outdoor education, and climate change.

“The conference exemplified one of the joys of human ecology — limitlessness,” said Kali COA professor Ken Cline, left, academic dean Ken Hill, Kira West MPhil '18, Blake Cass MPhil '19, Kali Lamont '18, and Andrés Jennings ’07 chat during the 23rd annual SHE conference.COA professor Ken Cline, left, academic dean Ken Hill, Kira West MPhil '18, Blake Cass MPhil '19, Kali Lamont '18, and Andrés Jennings ’07 chat during the 23rd annual SHE conference. Credit: Jose Luis ElvasLamont, ’18. “I felt honored to connect with founding members of the study of human ecology, passionate individuals from around the world, and COA alumni.” 

Among conference presenters were two COA grad students and one undergrad: Kira West M.Phil ’18 shared her Master’s thesis work on outdoor community education in Maine; and Blake Cass M.Phil ’19 took part in a symposium on students’ perspectives on the future of human ecology; Kali Lamont ’18 presented her COA senior project on community-based response to climate change in the United States. 

“The SHE conference gathers top researchers and applied thinkers around complex human-ecological issues with the goal of forming real-world solutions,” said College of the Atlantic academic dean and current Society for Human Ecology (SHE) executive director Dr. Ken Hill. “It’s also an incredible opportunity to network with other cutting edge institutions of human ecology. This is an exciting conference of doers and not just talkers.”

COA faculty members joining Hill at the SHE conference included COA Rachel Carson Chair in Human Ecology and past SHE president and executive director Dr. Rich Borden, COA Davis Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection Ken Cline, JD, COA Sharpe-McNally Chair in Green and Socially Sustainable Business Jay Friedlander, and COA Kali Lamont ’18 and Andrés Jennings ’07 connect over refreshments at the 23rd SHE conference.Kali Lamont ’18 and Andrés Jennings ’07 connect over refreshments at the 23rd SHE conference.Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agricultural Systems Dr. Kourtney Collum. All gave presentations on topics related to their fields of expertise.

“It is always amazing to see COA being raised as an exemplar in human-ecological education at these gatherings,” Hill said. “One way we stay in the forefront is by bringing current faculty and students who present their ideas and research, as well as by attracting global alumni to these forums. As a result, SHE conferences represent one of the educational and professional highlights for our community members.” 

Jivan Sobrino-Wheeler ’14, Mike Kimball ’89, Mihnea Tanacesu ’06, Andrés Jennings ’07, and Lauren Peppermen ’16 gave talks, presentations, and participated in symposia about topics ranging from land conservation in Latin America to ethnography, sustainable tourism, and rewilding.

“The conference is like a convivial family reunion in many ways”, Borden said, “offering Kira West Phil '18 recieves the 2018 SHE Distinguished Contribution Award for her conference planning work from COA academic dean Ken Hill, current executive director of SHE.Kira West Phil '18 recieves the 2018 SHE Distinguished Contribution Award for her conference planning work from COA academic dean Ken Hill, current executive director of SHE. Credit: Jose Luis Elvasnetworking opportunities for students and opening doors for internships and graduate studies.” “All of these people are at the interface of human/environment relations with a foot in both zones, and are creatively and practically dealing with current human ecological issues,” he said. 

Dr. Jahi Chappell, a senior research fellow of agroecology and agricultural policy at Coventry University UK, was one of the keynote speakers.  His book, “Beginning to End Hunger: Food and the Environment in Brazil and Beyond,” has received SHE’s 2018 Gerald L. Young Book Award for distinguished scholarship in the field of human ecology. After connecting with COA faculty in Lisbon, he subsequently visited the college and discussed his ideas at a COA human Ecology forum.

Plans are now underway for the SHE XXIV Conference, to be held in Brazil in 2020. In the meantime, Borden and Hill are developing an online resource network of individuals and institutions working with human ecology worldwide. Once established, the SHE network will be a valuable resource for student internships, thesis research, faculty exchanges and other types of international, human ecology educational programs, Borden said.

Blake Cass MPhil '19, COA professor Rich Borden, SHE president Rob Dyball, Australia National University doctoral candidate Bronwyn Wilkes, and COA academic dean and SHE executive director Ken Hill join forces for The Future of Human Ecology Symposium at the 23rd SHE conference.Blake Cass MPhil '19, COA professor Rich Borden, SHE president Rob Dyball, Australia National University doctoral candidate Bronwyn Wilkes, and COA academic dean and SHE executive director Ken Hill join forces for The Future of Human Ecology Symposium at the 23rd SHE conference.