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Shepherd receives grant to host conference on humanities and the environment

ISSUED: 8 June 2017
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s Humanities and the 21st Century initiative received a $4,705 grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council to help organize a conference on humanities and the environment. The conference, part of a new biyearly series, will take place October 26-27 at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center near Shepherdstown, which is cosponsoring the event.

“We are hoping to explore the potential of the humanities to enhance the public’s awareness of the science on environmental issues,” said Dr. Keith Alexander, assistant professor of history and conference organizer.

“We know a lot about the science of what is going on with the environment, but having general audiences understand the challenges and what they can do about it seems to be a missing link,” said Dr. Julia Sandy, associate professor of history and conference organizer. “This symposium is being offered to bridge that gap.”

Featured speakers will be John Amos, founder and president of SkyTruth, who will discuss how the use of imagery stimulates public interest, understanding, and personal connection to environmental issues around the world; David Conover, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, whose work includes the nature documentary television series Sunrise Earth; and Dr. Douglas Brinkley, professor of history and a fellow at the James Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, who will talk about the role of historical study in environmental protection issues.

Other speakers are Dr. Angela Lueking, professor in the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering at Pennsylvania State University who is currently on temporary appointment to the National Science Foundation, who will discuss communicating across disciplines to bring issues to the public, and Denise Giardina, the award-winning author of “Storming Heaven,” “The Unquiet Earth,” and “Saints and Villains,” who will read from “The Unquiet Earth,” take part in an interview, and answer audience questions.

Alexander and Sandy say hearing from those who work in the humanities and sciences might encourage conference attendees to take action.

“We have science telling us what these issues are and what we can do about it, but as a general public we are not responding to that in the ways that we need to,” Sandy said. “This is a way to bring people together to think about how we can do that.”

Sponsors of the symposium include Shepherd University, the Shepherd University Foundation, the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education, the George Washington Institute of Living Ethics, SkyTruth, and the West Virginia Humanities Council.

The conference is free and open to the public, and all keynote sessions will be streamed on Facebook Live and to national parks, national forests, and public land facilities. For more information and to register, contact Julia Sandy at or Keith Alexander at

Listen to the interview HERE.

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