Nature Feelz: Perspectives and reflections on ecological emotions

A special multi-day symposium reflected upon how heightened ecological distress shapes our relationship with the natural environment and informs our responses to the climate crisis.

This event was held at the University of Sydney on 5-8 December 2022.

As interconnected biodiversity, climate, water and related socio-ecological crises intensify around the world, experiences of ecological distress are proliferating. Variously termed solastalgia, climate anxiety, or ecological grief, these multifaceted experiences of loss are becoming more common, and are being articulated and shared, but they are also significantly differentiated. This is particularly the case for many young people who, from early on, have been conscious of the insecurity of their ecosystems, the transience of other species, and their own profound vulnerability.

As scholars, activists, citizens and community members, we want to take stock of how diverse humans are creating, experiencing, suppressing, making sense of, managing, preventing, intensifying, and resisting ecological distress. We are also interested in what it would mean to consider the ecological emotions of beings other than humans. No single discipline or practice possesses the toolkit, conceptual scope, or sufficient influence to address these questions.

We therefore invited contributions from across academic disciplines and diverse practices to address these questions of affect, emotion, selfhood and connection, including research, practice/activist, and artistic contributions. These explored:

  • Naming and understanding distinct forms of ecological emotions;
  • Practical support for people struggling to cope with ecological grief;
  • Evidence-based explorations of what kinds of action are ‘the antidote to despair’;
  • Political, economic, social and/or cultural analyses of how and why specific people do (or do not) feel specific things about the environment;
  • The ecological emotions of non-human beings.

This symposium was part of the Ecological Emotions, Feelings and Affects research project.

Image of RMIT University's logo

This event was hosted by the Sydney Environment Institute in partnership with RMIT University's Urban Futures platform.

Header Image: Image by JP Desvigne, via Unsplash

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