Call for Proposals


An Ecotopian Toolkit for Anthropocene Challenges

Thursday, 13 April 2017—Saturday, 15 April 2017
A conference organized by the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities

Tool making is a signature trait of the human species. What tools can we make, and might we require, in the age of the human, the anthropocene: a name for the present geological epoch when humans are the most potent force shaping earth’s systems? Global warming and other anthropocene challenges, including the ongoing sixth mass extinction event, often lead to apocalyptic visions, or apathy. Prompted in part by the 500th anniversary of Utopia, a playful work whose concerns continue to translate across time and space, we explore a longer history of the anthropocene to help represent—and respond to—our contemporary moment. Might a utopian turn help us navigate warmer, rising waters and build new forms of refuge? What tools can STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) educators in universities, museums, and non-profits design and develop via the history of utopia and its hope for better futures?

Proposals, whether for speculative or realized tools, developed by individual or teams working across the arts and sciences might: 

  • explore past, present and future intersections between environmental ways of knowing and the utopian imaginary
  • address present paradigms that attempt to integrate the two cultures: labs, workshops, studios, etc.   
  • consider how products of integrated knowledge are disseminated from the lab, workshop, studio  
  • propose tools that might be adapted by citizen scientists and citizen humanists 
  • suggest how anthropocene tools can reach and engage new audiences in partnership with galleries, libraries, archives, museums, etc.

Proposals should be of no more than 300 words and include a brief c.v. (no more than 2 pages) for each presenter. All materials will be evaluated by an interdisciplinary group of faculty, students, and staff from the University of Pennsylvania. Submissions are due by October 10; applicants will be notified by November 1, 2016. Direct submissions to

You may download the Call for Proposals here.