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Climate Change and Academia: Addressing the Carbon Footprint of Scholarly Conferences
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Climate Change and Academia: Addressing the Carbon Footprint of Scholarly Conferences

A Special Joint Roundtable & Workshop co-sponsored by the Environmental Studies Association of Canada ( and the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities (CSDH)

When: Monday, May 28th, 2018. 10:30am - Noon.

Where: First Nations - FN 2000

Lead Organizers:

  1. Peter Shepherd (Communications Coordinator, ESAC);
  2. Ryan Katz-Rosene (Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa; Vice-President, ESAC);
  3. Constance Crompton (Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa; Vice-President, CSDH);
  4. Garrett Richards (SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Saskatchewan, Web Coordinator, ESAC).


This interdisciplinary roundtable brings together four distinct and leading voices in the discussion of how to reduce academia’s carbon footprint at scholarly conferences. The session, jointly held by the Environmental Studies Association of Canada and the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities, will address how universities and scholarly organizations can adopt new low carbon technologies and policies, and highlight criteria and other ways to help scholars flourish in their careers while using only their fair share of carbon. The roundtable discussion will be followed by a workshop session where participants will collectively work towards a collaborative set of ideas for reducing the carbon footprint presently associated with the scholarly exchange of ideas.

Welcoming (3 mins)

Roundtable Chair and Facilitator: Dr. Constance Crompton, University of Ottawa

PART 1: Theory (Roundtable)

  1. Problematizing Academia’s Carbon Footprint (8 mins)

Dr. Ryan Katz-Rosene is an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa's School of Political Studies, where he researches and teaches a range of topics relating to global environmental politics, international political economy, and Canada's role in the world. As an emerging scholar, he has made a number of research contributions within a diverse set of thematic areas (sustainable transportation, energy transition, and agro-ecology, notably). His most recent publication is a book, co-authored with Matthew Paterson, titled Thinking Ecologically about the Global Political Economy (Routledge, 2018). In November 2017 he published a widely read opinion piece for Policy Options, titled "The policy dilemma of aviation emissions," which will serve as the basis for his presentation. He is the Vice President of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada, and helps to manage his family's organic farm in Cantley, Quebec.

2)  The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions “White Paper on Academic Aviation” (8 mins)

Dr. Simon Donner is an Associate Professor of Climatology in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, where he conducts research at the interface of climate science, marine science, and public policy. He is also the director of UBC’s NSERC-supported “Ocean Leaders” program and is affiliated with UBC’s Institute of Oceans and Fisheries, Liu Institute for Global Issues and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. [The PICS white paper will appear by end of March here: ]

3) The Flying Less Initiative and Strategies for Climate Action (8 mins)

Peter Shepherd is a climate activist studying Sustainability at Ryerson University, and serves as the Communications Coordinator and Board Member of ESAC. He is a carpenter and graduate of the Passive House Institute US's (PHIUS) PH Builder program. He has represented various ENGO's to the Climate Action Network of Canada since 1995. In 2007 he joined a "Carbon Rationing Action Group" which revealed academic aviation to his partner's conferences as the largest item in his carbon footprint. Shepherd is interested in the social construction of climate denial and how institutions may be changed to enable acceptance.

4) Experimenting with Teleconference-based Conferences (8 mins)

Dr. Geoffrey Martin Rockwell is a Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta. He has published on videogames, textual visualization and analysis, and computing in the humanities including a book from the MIT Press, Hermeneutica: Computer-Assisted Interpretation in the Humanities. He is a co-developer of Voyant Tools <>, a suite of text analysis tools, for which he and his co-developer were awarded the CSDH/SCHN 2017 Outstanding Contribution Award. Rockwell also leads the TAPoR <> project documenting text tools and the Methods Commons <> documenting text analysis methods. He is currently the Director of the Kule Institute for Advanced Study which has been running an annual Around the World e-conference <>.

PART 2: Action (Workshop)

Part 2 of this event features a "workshop" with break out groups addressing questions, then coming back together with each group having a 'rapporteur'  (30 mins).

The workshop will be facilitated by Constance Crompton and Garrett Richards, with support from the four panelists.