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UF hosting a climate change colloquium

Santa Fe River, flooded dirt road. (UF/IFAS Photo by Thomas Wright)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Several University of Florida departments, institutes and centers are joining together this week to host “Imagining Climate Change, “a unique approach to environmental change that engages authors, scholars, scientists and the general public to imagine our climate futures.

The Spring 2016 colloquium will bring award-winning and influential French and American science fiction authors and climate scientists to the UF campus to dialogue with UF faculty and researchers in the humanities, climate studies, and water management, and to explore new ways of representing and responding to environmental change.  The event, scheduled for February 17 to 18, overlaps with the UF Water Institute’s 5th Biennial Symposium, a major event in the field of water research and management.

“It’s so important for our dialogue about climate change to be science based and data driven, but it is equally important for us to be engaging with the question: ‘How will this affect our lives?’” said Andrea Lucky an evolutionary biologist and biodiversity scientist with UF’s Department of Entomology and Nematology. She works under the umbrella of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Science can provide facts, but it is the business of the creative arts to envision the future, and how all of humanity will be impacted by man-made changes to our planet.”

Lucky, who will speak on Thursday, will respond to award-winning and New York Times best-selling Floridia author Jeff Vandermeer. She pointed to the importance of science popular culture, and how epic works like the award-winning novel “Dune” and the Academy Award-winning film “Interstellar” function as creative devices to show the general public what our lives could be like if Earth continues to warm at alarming rates.

The colloquium begins on February 17 at 1:30 p.m. in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom, with a plenary roundtable, co-hosted by the UF Water Institute. Introduced by UF President W. Kent Fuchs and Cynthia Barnett of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications, the roundtable will feature Tobias Buckell, Jay Famiglietti, Ellen E. Martin, Yann Quero and Jeff VanderMeer.

The colloquium continues February 18 at 2 p.m. in Smathers Library 100, with individual talks, including:

  • “Eco-Fictions” by Christian Chelebourg of the Université de Lorraine; respondent: M. Elizabeth Ginway, UF Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies;
  • “The Day After Tomorrow – Using Past Ocean Circulation to Imagine the Future” by Ellen E. Martin from UF; respondent: Phillip Wegner, UF Department of English;
  • “Arctic Rising” by Tobias Buckell; respondent: Andrew Zimmerman, UF Department of Geological Sciences;

Following an intermission, the program will conclude with a final session at 7:30 p.m. in Smathers Library 100.  Talks include:

  • “The Future Will No Longer Be What It Once Was” by Yann Quero; respondent: Terry Harpold, UF Department of English
  • “After the Anthropocene” by Jeff VanderMeer; respondent: Andrea Lucky, UF Department of Entomology and Nematology

All events are presented in English or simultaneous English translation and are free and open to the public. See for a schedule of event locations and times, interviews with the authors, and excerpts of their work in climate science and fiction.

For additional information, contact Terry Harpold, or Alioune Sow

“Imagining Climate Change” is co-sponsored by the France-Florida Research Institute, the Center for African Studies, the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, the Department of English, the Florida Climate Institute at the University of Florida, the George A. Smathers Libraries, the Science Fiction Working Group, the UF/IFAS Water Institute, and Storm Richards and Jeanne Fillman-Richards. Colloquium events are made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.

By Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, 352-294-3302,

Sources: Terry Harpold, 352-294-2808

Photo: Santa Fe River, flooded dirt road. (UF/IFAS Photo by Thomas Wright)