Announcing BASTA!


BASTA! stands for “Bridging the Arts, Sciences, and Theoretical Humanities for the Anthropocene.” (See here for more information.) It’s the informal name under which a group of Burlington academics and activists met at the University of Vermont on September 25, 2015, to discuss steps toward the goal indicated by its acronym. There has as yet been no agreement for formalizing the group or the name. What follows are my notes from the meeting. Comments and contributions welcome.

In attendance:
16 faculty, grad students, and others/professionals from UVM (Environmental Program, Rubenstein School, Fleming Museum, Gund Institute, Humanities Center, History Dept., Art Dept., College of Education), St. Michael’s College (Art Dept., McCarthy Art Gallery), Champlain College (Creative Media/Emergent Media), Community College of Vermont (Environmental Science, Field Biology), and the community.

General ideas for what the group could or should do:
1) Reading/discussion group, exchanging and debating ideas @ the Anthropocene, implications for thinking about our scholarly work, “Anthropocene education,” etc.
2) Generater/organizer of events, speaker series, symposia, debates (e.g. ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’ Anthropocene), pop-up events, etc.
3) Interface between academe and community: organize pop-up university events at local spaces (e.g. Artsriot), public book readings, work with VT Humanities Council, etc.
4) Implementer of ideas @ sustainability goals, including by working with/through the community around public actions (e.g. Burlington climate change policy, South End development, Moran Plant redevelopment, etc.)
5) Clearinghouse for information @ things that are already being done, via social media/web site or some other (“beyond social media”?) form

The most popular specific idea:
To organize a multiple-venue local event (perhaps in Spring 2016) focused on a broad but accessible theme, such as how Burlington is or could be responding to climate change and/or the Anthropocene (the “Human Era/Error?”), with speakers/panels (e.g., “good” vs. “bad” Anthropocene debate), art/media exhibits, public engagement initiatives (focused around local issues such as South End development, energy development, refugee resettlement, etc.), & opportunities for interaction.

Support & cooperation possibilities:

UVM Humanities Center (can provide funding for food for future meetings, collaborative grants for transdisciplinary faculty initiatives), UVM Evironmental Program (food for future meetings), Gund Institute (collaboration/resource), UVM Office of the VP for Research (Faculty Activity Networks, FISAR grants, et al), Fleming Museum (space/venue, potential exhibition), Vermont Humanities Council (future theme for conference or statewide initiatives), McCarthy Art Gallery (exhibition space at St. Mike’s), Burlington Generator (collaboration @ Big Maker series?), Burlington City Arts, Main St. Landing, Lane Series, UVM film series, United Academics (film series idea), VT Refugee Resettlement Program, Champlain C, St Mike’s C, Artsriot, et al

Next steps:
1) Deane Wang took the initiative of drafting a short statement for a Humanities Center Multi-Disciplinary Collegial Network grant; I’ll send that to the Humanities Center and will facilitate a Doodle poll for a next meeting.
2) I have offered this web space for the group’s use until we develop the capacity for something larger and more open-ended and innovative (with funding for a grad student to run it).
3) Natalie Jeremijenko’s visit to Burlington could be viewed as a potential catalyst for the work of the group in interfacing with the larger community. We should, at the very least, all try to see her talk on October 8.

Other ideas?

Reply in the Comments section below to share your thoughts, ideas, proposals, and reactions.

Champ photo by Benjamin D. Bloom