UWO to Host International Conference on Environment & Society in June


The 25th International Symposium for Society & Resource Management (ISSRM) is coming to UWO and Oshkosh from June 2-7.

The fact that this gathering of several hundred academics and practitioners from around the world who do research and on-the-ground work related to conservation, sustainability, stewardship of parks and forest, agriculture, land use planning and more will be taking place here is noteworthy in its own right. It’s even more newsworthy when one considers that in 2018 the conference was held at a ski resort in the mountains of Utah, the previous year it took place in Sweden, and next year it will be in Australia.

It’s kind of a big deal that ISSRM is coming to Oshkosh.

Playing on UWO’s recent lofty positions in the Sierra Club’s annual “Cool Schools” ranking of the greenest campuses in the nation (as high as #3 a few years back), its growing reputation as a sustainability leader in the area, its recent creation of the Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations (SIRT), members of its Department of Sociology having attended the conference many times previously, Oshkosh’s bustling small-city vibe and proximity to numerous places and homes to people that are high in the international environmental pantheon, and the idea that it might be attractive to come back to a campus setting in the heart of the U.S., local organizers made a successful pitch over two years ago and have been planning it ever since.

UWO’s Department of Sociology and SIRT look forward to hosting ISSRM. According to Elizabeth Barron, SIRT’s Associate Director, “SIRT is excited to be part of bringing this international conference to Oshkosh.” She noted that this year’s theme on sustainability in the anthropocene is not only timely, but clearly consistent with SIRT’s mission to “engage stakeholders from Wisconsin and beyond to build healthy communities, inclusive economies, and ecologically sound environments through inquiry, education and action”.

The deadline for hopeful participants to submit abstracts for consideration is March 5, though interested people with extenuating circumstances and need more time should contact info@iasnr.org. Abstracts can be submitted here. Click “Add” next to “Submit Abstracts (Oral Presentations and Posters).” Please note: a free login account is required before an abstract can be submitted; you must also be logged into your account to submit an abstract. Early bird registrations are due by April 15 and attendees can elect to register for the entire conference or just one day.

ISSRM will include a number of parallel sessions (presentations by conference participants, organized by topic) in UWO’s Sage Hall, plenaries (major talks and panels that all participants will attend) and receptions at the campus’s Alumni Welcome & Conference Center, field trips to sites throughout the region, and a conference picnic at the Leach Amphitheater. Most participants will likely stay at the conference hotel, the Best Western Premier Waterfront downtown, or on campus in Taylor Hall. Participants will be offered the opportunity to write about their research topic or their experiences while here for the Oshkosh Independent, and will be looking for local places to shop, eat, and drink while here, so the conference promises to have a strong local impact.

In addition to the International Association for Society & Natural Resources, which sponsors the conference, the organizers at UWO are working with two key partners to host it. They are collaborating with Aldo Leopold Foundation, an international leader in advancing the understanding, stewardship and restoration of land health, and in cultivating leadership for conservation. “Nothing so important as an ethic is ever ‘written,’” Leopold explained. “It evolves ‘in the minds of a thinking community.’” It will be the 70th anniversary of the publication of A Sand County Almanac, a key text for the modern environmental movement, so the conference will celebrate, workshop, discuss, visit places associated with, and challenge his ideas and legacy. Among other things, there will be a special screening of and talkback about Green Fire, a documentary about Leopold, at the Time Theater on the evening of June 4th. Some tickets will be available for the general public.

Organizers are also excited to be partnering with the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) of the Menominee Nation, original inhabitants of a large portion of Wisconsin, including the Oshkosh area. Among other things, SDI is organizing and facilitating a plenary panel with the tentative title of, “Indigenous Perspectives of People and Place in the Great Lakes Region: Looking Beyond Leopold’s Backyard.” To be held from 8-10am on the morning of June 4, a limited number of tickets will be available to the general public for this and the other two plenaries, which include a keynote by New York Times-bestselling Wisconsin author Michael Perry, who will present a talk entitled, “Displacing Place” from 8:30-9:45am on June 5. People interested in securing tickets for the plenaries should contact Paul Van Auken at vanaukep@uwosh.edu for more information and to be put on the waiting list.

Learn more about ISSRM, UWO Department of Sociology, and SIRT by following the links.


About Author

Paul Van Auken

Paul Van Auken has been a member of the sociology and environmental studies faculty at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh since 2007, after completing a Ph.D. in sociology from UW-Madison. A native of Iowa but resident of Wisconsin since 1999, Paul conducts research on issues related to neighborhood, community, land use planning and access to public space, sustainability, and teaching and learning. He also practices public sociology, regularly writing a column called “Shortening the Distance” for Oshkosh Independent. He lives with his wife and two daughters on the historic, walkable, and interesting east side of Oshkosh, near the shores of Lake Winnebago.

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