"Nature and language: how language influences our relationship with the natural world" at the Oxford Literary Festival

Past Event

22 March 2015, 3:30pm - 6:30pm

Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

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© IstocK/AndrejaD

This afternoon event is part of the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival 2015. Oxford Martin School is the Festival Ideas Partner.

Raymond Williams famously observed that ‘nature’ is perhaps the most complex word in the English language. If the word itself is complex, so too is the way that we talk about nature. From the language we use to how we frame our relationship with nature, the way we talk about the natural world profoundly affects our perception of it and the related choices we make. It influences relationships with the natural world at both a personal and policy level.

Join us for two highly interactive and interconnected sessions that explore the interplay between our language and our values as they relate to the natural world.

2.30 - 3.45pm - Value and values: how the natural capital agenda frames our approach to nature

  • George Monbiot, Author and Journalist
  • Cameron Hepburn, Director, Economics of Sustainability, The Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School
  • Chaired by Pilita Clark, Financial Times’ environment correspondent

Our environmental language is littered with such terms as ‘ecosystem services’, ‘no-take zones’, ‘reserves’. Is this language an essential tool in valuing and protecting the natural world for the benefit of both threatened biodiversity and for those whose livelihoods depend on the ‘services’ the natural world provides? Or does it discourage us from embracing the wonder of the natural world at the expense of appealing to financial self-interest? At the core of this debate is the question of what influences our environmental choices most – intrinsic or extrinsic values.

3.45 - 4.15pm - Refreshments

4.15 - 5.30pm - The Language of Landscape

  • Dominick Tyler, Photographer and Author
  • Caspar Henderson, Writer and Journalist
  • Melanie Challenger, Writer
  • Chaired by Kate Raworth, Economist and photographer

This is a ticketed event and the tickets are £28. For more information and to purchase a ticket please visit this website: http://www.wegottickets.com/oxfordliteraryfestival/event/307718

About the speakers

George Monbiot is an author, journalist and one of the UK’s best-known environmental campaigners. He is author of Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding.

Cameron Hepburn is an economist with expertise in energy, resources and the environment and author of Nature in the Balance: The Economics of Biodiversity.

Pilita Clark is an awrding winning environmental correspondent of the Financial Times.

Dominick Tyler, Photgrapher and author of Landreader, presents stunning images of British landscapes and ecosystems and explores the narrative and language that helps us connect with the natural world on multiple levels. By investigating the interplay between language and landscape, Tyler raises questions about our relationship with the environment and the changes that this relationship has undergone.

Caspar Henderson refers to his The Book of Barely Imagined Beings and his forthcoming A New Map of Wonders to remind us that the reality of the natural world tends to be much more astonishing than we realise. He will explore how we can retain our sense of wonder with the natural world and what happens if we lose this.

Melanie Challenger is a British writer of poetry and prose. She has been a Fellow at the AHRC Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity and Arts Council International Fellow at the British Antarctic Survey. In 2014, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and the Humanities at Bard College. From 2015-17, she will be a Visiting Fellow at Durham’s Philosophy Department.

Kate Raworth is an economist and senior visiting researcher at the Environmental Change Institute at University of Oxford. Her current specialism is in providing an economic framework that incorporates the planetary boundaries with social justice, and she is currently writing a book about values-based-economics-within-planetary-boundaries. Prior to ECI, Kate was a senior researcher at Oxfam and before that with UNDP. As well as all these accomplishments, she is also a rather wonderful portrait photographer!