(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – March 3, 2020) An expert on ecological grief, also known as eco-grief or climate grief, will give a free public talk at California Lutheran University on building the emotional resilience needed to deal with environmental loss and work toward a sustainable future.
Jennifer Atkinson, who teaches at the University of Washington Bothell, will present “Facing Down Climate Despair: Anxiety, Grief and Action in the Age of Crisis” at 7 p.m. Monday, March 9, in Samuelson Chapel on the Thousand Oaks campus.
Bryan Rasmussen, the adviser for Cal Lutheran’s environmental studies minor and an associate professor of English, decided to bring Atkinson to campus because of the emotional toll that climate issues have on students. This has been particularly true for students directly affected by the Thomas and Woolsey fires. In addition to the lecture, Atkinson will lead a student and faculty workshop, and visit Rasmussen’s “Imagining Climate Crisis” honors class.
“In the wake of these events and with the certainty of more on the horizon, I believe it is insufficient to address the climate crisis without offering lessons, experiences and tools for imagining a way forward,” Rasmussen said. “This is especially true for college-aged students who belong to the frontline communities that are bearing the brunt of the crisis and face the certainty of an uncertain future.”
Atkinson teaches a quarter-long seminar on eco-grief in addition to courses on environmental humanities, nature writing and ethics at UW Bothell. She received a grant from the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society to help develop and present a workshop, “An Existential Toolkit for Climate Educators,” in Germany this summer. Atkinson regularly collaborates with activists, psychologists, educators and scientists to provide resources on navigating the emotional terrain of the climate crisis.
“As students, scientists, activists and frontline communities increasingly report feelings of eco-anxiety and climate grief, there is a growing need to build the emotional resilience to process environmental loss,” Atkinson said. “Burnout and despair only make it harder to stay engaged in climate solutions for the long haul.”
Atkinson is the author of the 2018 book “Gardenland: Nature, Fantasy and Everyday Practice,” which explores community, social justice, joyful labor, contact with nature, and more vibrant and democratic cities. She has a doctorate in English language and literature from the University of Chicago.
Cal Lutheran’s Artists and Speakers Series is sponsoring the event.
The chapel is located at 165 Chapel Lane. For more information, contact Rasmussen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-493-3745.