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I.M.A. to Co-Sponsor "The Spirit of Sustainable Agriculture" Conference at Harvard Divinity School

  • Harvard Divinity School Francis Avenue Cambridge, MA USA (map)

The Spirit of Sustainable Agriculture

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Harvard Divinity School is pleased to announce this call for papers for a conference on the “The Spirit of Sustainable Agriculture,” to be held at March 31-April 1, 2016, at Harvard. It has been almost ninety years since Rudolf Steiner offered his Agriculture Course, seventy-five since Sir Albert Howard published An Agricultural Testament, and almost forty since Wendell Berry published The Unsettling of America. Concepts such as agroecology, biodynamics, permaculture, food miles, food desserts, CAFOs, food justice, and local food have all proliferated in both popular and scholarly venues over the past ten to fifteen years.  Such a sustainable agriculture gestalt is prolific, vibrant, cross-fertilizing, and worthy of more sustained discussion and critical attention.  In this spirit, “The Spirit of Sustainable Agriculture” aims to bring together farmers, religious and spiritual leaders, and academics, respectively, to join in a robust and stimulating discussion about the spirit of sustainable agriculture, delineating its past, celebrating and investigating its present, and theorizing its future. Winona LaDuke of the White Earth Land Recovery Project and Nigel Savage of Hazon will offer keynote addresses.

We welcome proposals from farmers, food activists, spiritual leaders, and/or academics. Proposals may be for individual academic papers (20 minutes in length), full panels, or hour-long workshops. Harvard’s on-site garden is a possible venue for workshop activities.  Possible topics may include, but certainly will not be limited to, the following:

  •          Undertaking ethnography at the nexus of sustainable food studies
  •          Religio-spiritual perspectives on sustainable agriculture
  •          How food traditions are changing due to sustainable agriculture concerns/practices
  •          Agroecology and Global South/indigenous sustainable agricultures
  •          Food Justice and Religious Food Activism
  •          The Spirituality of Soil
  •          Food Resiliency, Religious Environmentalism, and Global Warming
  •          Queering Sustainable Agriculture and Ecology
  •          The Ecolinguistics of Sustainable Food Marketing and Sustainable Agriculture
  •          The “Religious Community” of Community Supported Agriculture
  •          Neopagan/Perma-pagan/Bioregional Farming Cultures
  •          Ritual and Sustainable Agriculture
  •          Animal Subjects
  •          The Spiritual Role of Seeds, Plants, and Animals
  •          Religion, Race, Gender, Class, and Sustainable Agriculture

To propose a paper, panel, or workshop, please send a 500-word proposal, 100-word abstract (for the conference program), and a 50-biography of each presenter, to Dan McKanan at (link sends e-mail). The deadline for proposals is October 1, 2015.

Limited financial aid is available to any conference participants with limited income, especially those who are full-time farmers, students, or activists. To apply for financial aid, please submit a request including 1) a description of your personal commitment to sustainable agriculture, 2) a full account of your individual and household income for 2015, 3) estimated travel and lodging costs for the conference, and 4) any additional information needed to demonstrate financial need to Dan McKanan at (link sends e-mail). Review of aid requests will begin September 1, 2015; requests received after that date may not receive full consideration.

Organizations that wish to serve as official cosponsors should contact Dan McKanan at (link sends e-mail). There is no financial commitment involved in cosponsorship, but each cosponsor will be responsible for one workshop.

Cosponsoring Organizations (in formation): Anathoth Community Farm, Biodynamic Association, Black Permaculture Network, Earth Activist Training, Food Project, Grassroots International, Groundwork Somerville, Harvard Food Literacy Project, Hazon, Institute for Mindful Agriculture, Natural Dharma Fellowship, Noonday Farm, Occupy the World Food Prize, Soul Fire Farm, Sustainable Living Department of Maharishi University of Management, White Earth Land Recovery Project