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Beloved beasts: fighting for life in an age of extinction

Join us for the first seminar of the Sydney Environment Institute’s Occasional Talks Series, as acclaimed science writer Michelle Nijhuis unravels the modern conservation movement and the new challenges it faces in the midst of a climate crisis.

In this talk, Michelle Nijhuis will give us a glimpse into her award-winning new book, Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction. This book tells the story of the modern conservation movement through the lives and ideas of the people who built it, from early battles to save charismatic species such as the American bison to today’s global effort to defend life on a larger scale. The book also confronts the darker side of modern conservation, long shadowed by racism and colonialism, and asks how conservation can better serve all species.

Beloved Beasts is the winner of the Sierra Club’s Rachel Carson Award, and was named one of the Chicago Tribune‘s Ten Best Books of 2021 as well as one of the ten best science books of 2021 by Booklist and Smithsonian Magazine.

This workshop was presented online on 18 May 2022.


Michelle Nijhuis is a project editor for The Atlantic and a longtime contributing editor of High Country News, and her reporting on climate change and conservation has appeared in publications including National Geographic and the New York Times Magazine. After 15 years off the electrical grid in western Colorado, she and her family now live in White Salmon, Washington.

Thom van Dooren is an Associate Professor in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies and Deputy Director – Member Engagement at the Sydney Environment Institute. His research is situated in the broad interdisciplinary field of the environmental humanities and focuses on some of the many philosophical, ethical, cultural, and political issues that arise in the context of species extinctions and human entanglements with threatened species and places.

This event is part of the Sydney Environment Institute’s Occasional Talks Series, which provides a space for a diverse range of international speakers to share their ideas about pressing environmental challenges.

Header image: Michelle Nijhuis.