The 2010-2011 academic year Biennial Theme, Ecologies in the Balance? The Way Forward, addressed new ways of living, working, connecting, and socializing that are emerging all over the world in response to changing ecologies. It explored how today’s crises and challenges are understood and represented by diverse communities.
Over the last decade the word “ecology” has become part of scholarly vocabulary across a wide-range of disciplines, attesting to the critical concern we have with our oîkos (“house,” a place we live in). While human ecology has encouraged interdisciplinary approaches and thinking for more than a century, new cross-, trans-, and interdisciplinary areas of inquiry focused on ecology have rapidly emerged. Economists have engaged in the exploration of relationships between ecosystems and human economies through ecological economics; communication and information studies have introduced information ecology by treating information as an ecosystem; and educators have called for ecoliteracy pointing to the need for radicalized environmental education.
Ecologies in Balance? The Way Forward served as an umbrella theme, offering an opportunity for different schools, programs, departments, and disciplines to come together in examining possible solutions to today’s ecological challenges. Events included “In Defense of Food: The Omnivore’s Solution,” a talk by author Michael Pollan; “Is There a Path to Sustainable Development - and Can the World Get on It?” a lecture presented by Jeffrey D. Sachs; and “Institutional Robustness and Ecological Sustainability,” a lecture by 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize winner Elinor Ostrom.