The Mellon Distinguished Fellowship in Environmental Humanities enables campus visits from high-profile writers, creative artists, and scholars whose work addresses contemporary environmental issues through the arts and humanities.
The Distinguished Fellow visits campus for a week-long stay, characterized by multiple opportunities for the Colby community to engage with her or him in a variety of ways, from the intimate (a writing workshop, classroom visit), to the collective (public lecture), to the convivial (dinners, receptions).
Read more about Colby’s history of bringing notable artists, writers and scholars practicing at the interface of the arts and the humanities and the environment to campus here.
2019 Fellow: Mark Dion
Mark Dion is an American conceptual artist whose work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. The job of the artist, he says, is to go against the grain of dominant culture, to challenge perception and convention. Appropriating archaeological, field ecology and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, Dion creates works that question the distinctions between ‘objective’ (‘rational’) scientific methods and ‘subjective’ (‘irrational’) influences. Dion also frequently collaborates with museums of natural history, aquariums, zoos and other institutions mandated to produce public knowledge on the topic of nature. By locating the roots of environmental politics and public policy in the construction of knowledge about nature, Mark Dion questions the objectivity and authoritative role of the scientific voice in contemporary society, tracking how pseudo-science, social agendas and ideology creep into public discourse and knowledge production.
Dion has received numerous awards, including the ninth annual Larry Aldrich Foundation Award (2001) The Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2007) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Lucida Art Award (2008). He has had major exhibitions at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art (2017), the Miami Art Museum (2006); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2004); and many others.
Mark Dion visited Colby College from February 26-March 1, 2019. His residency was co-sponsored by the Colby College Museum of Art, The Lunder Institute, The Environmental Studies Program and the Art Department. Below you can see a couple of his environmentally-themed art installations. To see what Mark did during his residency, check out this video.
To read all about Mark’s visit, please check out our blog.
2018 Fellow: Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the most well-known and respected science fiction writers in the world. His reality-based approach has made him a social thinker speaking “for the future and from the future” in the spirit of Isaac Asimov. His work has received 11 major awards from the science fiction field, including two Hugo and two Nebula awards, and has been translated into 23 languages. His Mars trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars) was an international bestseller, and continues to be one of the most widely read works of science fiction, a benchmark in discussions of humanity in space. His latest work, New York 2140, envisions life in New York City after sea levels have risen 50 feet.
Tim Kreider wrote for The New Yorker that Robinson is “one of the most important political writers working in America today,” and Reed Johnson of the Los Angeles Times writes that his science fiction “doesn’t trade in extremes and objects to ‘apocalyptic thinking.’”
His environmental work was the basis of Time magazine’s naming him one of the “Heroes of the Environment” in 2008. He has worked with the U.S. National Science Foundation, and was part of their Antarctic Artists and Writers program in 1995, when he spent two months in Antarctica courtesy of NSF. He was part of the Sequoia Parks Foundations’ artist program in 2008, and the guest of Honor at the 68th World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne in 2010. His articles and stories have been published in Nature, The New York Times, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, The Washington Post, The New Scientist, and Wired.
Robinson has lectured at more than a hundred institutions over the last 25 years—in North America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica. Because of the intensively researched nature of his fiction and the integrated nature of his various interests, ranging from the physical and human sciences to sustainability issues, political economy, urban design, utopia, space and future history, he speaks on a wide variety of subjects, with the emphasis often on what the future may hold for these subjects.
Mr. Robinson met with students and faculty, and visited several classes during his residency March 20-22. He gave a public lecture March 21 at 7:00 p.m. in Ostrove Auditorium.
Inaugural Fellow 2017: Winona LaDuke
Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development renewable energy and food systems. She lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, and is a two time vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party.
As Program Director of the Honor the Earth, she works nationally and internationally on the issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice with Indigenous communities. And in her own community, she is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation based nonprofit organizations in the country, and a leader in the issues of culturally based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy and food systems. In this work, she also continues national and international work to protect Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.
In 2007, LaDuke was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, recognizing her leadership and community commitment. In 1994, LaDuke was nominated by Time magazine as one of America’s fifty most promising leaders under forty years of age. She has been awarded the Thomas Merton Award in 1996, Ms. Woman of the Year (with the Indigo Girls in l997) , and the Reebok Human Rights Award, with which in part she began the White Earth Land Recovery Project. The White Earth Land Recovery Project has won many awards- including the prestigious 2003 International Slow Food Award for Biodiversity, recognizing the organization’s work to protect wild rice from patenting and genetic engineering.
A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, she has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues. She is a former board member of Greenpeace USA and is presently an advisory board member for the Trust for Public Lands Native Lands Program as well as a board member of the Christensen Fund. The Author of five books, including Recovering the Sacred, All our Relations and a novel- Last Standing Woman, she is widely recognized for her work on environmental and human rights issues.