Rensselaer To Celebrate Earth Week With Lectures, Films, Discussions, and Festival

Troy Community Invited To Participate in Week-Long Celebration With Events for Adults and Children

April 15, 2014


The Rensselaer Sustainability Network — a group that connects faculty, students, staff, and community members with a common interest in sustainability — and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences are hosting a series of programs the week of April 20 in celebration of Earth Week.

The varied events of Rensselaer’s 2014 Earth Week Festival all celebrate interconnections — across generations and geography, between plants, animals, and humans, and across issues as distinct as shale gas, public education, and environmental governance. Highlights of the program include the Sensing Sensibilities Symposium, several movie screenings and public discussions, and a finale festival with special events for children. The public is welcome at all the free events that make up the Earth Week Festival.

Sensing Sensibilities Symposium

The Sensing Sensibilities Symposium, part of the Vollmer Fries Distinguished Lecture Series, will feature a pair of lectures from an artist and a philosopher, Steve Baker and Monika Bakke, about the questions artists are posing about the evolving way humans consider their relationships to animals, plants, and the environment. The lectures will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, in Studio 2 at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC).

Baker, an emeritus professor of art history at the University of Central Lancashire and the author of Artist|Animal, will give a talk titled “The redescription of the world” that will explore how common ground can be found between works dealing with language and works dealing with animals without diminishing each other.

Bakke is an associate professor of philosophy at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, and the author of Bio-transfiguration: Art and Aesthetics of Posthumanism. She will give a lecture titled “And the plant responded” focused on the philosophical and artistic ramifications of the significant, and emerging, evidence that plants behave intelligently and, in some cases, have decision-making abilities.

Bakke and Baker will also participate in an informal discussion about bioart and biotechnology at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 23, in the Bruggeman Conference Center at the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS).

Finale Festival

The Finale Festival — from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the Rensselaer Union on 15th Street – promises to be of particular interest to community members and families, with many activities geared toward children. Food trucks, music, and demonstrations will make this a unique and entertaining event.

From noon to 3 p.m. there will be kiosks with face painting, crafts, and educational demonstrations run by Rensselaer student groups, alongside music, juggling, and a parkour performance. 

From 1 to 3 p.m. there will be an informal environmental jobs meet-and-greet during which sustainability professionals can meet with students and community members.

From 3 to 5 p.m., there will be a viewing of the film Bidder 70, about a college student’s act of civil disobedience that disrupted the auction of the oil and gas lease rights of a piece of Utah land. A discussion following the film will be moderated by Rensselaer students, drawing high school students into discussion about different kinds of environmental activism and civil disobedience. 

Other Earth Week Festival Events

“Redefining the Grocery Store for Local Food” lecture by Ben Greene at 10 a.m. Friday, April 25, in the CBIS auditorium. Greene is the founder of the Farmery, an urban farm, market, and café based in Durham, North Carolina. 

Press Contact Emily Donohue
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