Anthropocene U: Academic responses and responsibilities at Lakehead University
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This thesis explores the stories of six faculty members and administrators at Lakehead University who are responding to the Anthropocene through their academic work. Their stories suggest that there are barriers facing academic engagement with the Anthropocene and the associated possibilities for action are uniquely empowered by the particular position and privileges of higher education; rich tensions arise in exploring the response-ability of the academy to the Anthropocene. I consider the planetary and pedagogical contexts from which this research develops. Then, turning to participant stories, I look to appreciative inquiry, narrative inquiry, and place inquiry to guide my interactions with their experiences in ways that intend to grow the community of scholars responding to the Anthropocene at one Canadian university, Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I next introduce the participants and the site of research through a series of vignettes, and explore the experiences of participants as they work to respond to the current moment on the planet. Their stories begin to illustrate the parallels between how neoliberalism has helped usher in the Anthropocene and has shaped the university in ways that minimize its ability to respond. The final chapter speaks to possibility and presents participants’ visions for a University more responsive to the Anthropocene, illustrated by photographs of places that reflect participants’ understandings of what is possible and that integrate place-voice into the research. This thesis concludes by summarizing key themes, and by daring readers to consider their own response-abilities in the Anthropocene.