Austin Anthropocene Campus

This PECE Essay contains materials for participants in the Austin Anthropocene Field Campus. The campus aims to develop tactics for interdisciplinary engagement with the Anthropocene. It aims to use the concept of the Anthropocene as a catalyst for meaningful exchange: not only scholars exchanging ideas, but also non-academic practitioners, activists, and artists exchanging skills with one another. Up to thirty participants will work closely with community partners and local experts in Austin, Texas who are striving to expose and redress processes of environmental change and injustice tied to the city’s extant energy system and culture.

This field campus will work towards the production of empirically-nuanced teaching materials at the intersection of environmental justice and energy production and use. These efforts will help expand the educational focus of environmental justice beyond the perils of fossil fuels to the everyday demands of achieving an equitable energy transition. One of the difficulties and advantages of teaching the Anthropocene concept is how it problematizes the taken-for-granted ways in which we think about the interaction of “social,” “cultural,” and “natural” scales and systems. Accordingly, this field campus will make use of a shared analytic to guide campus participants in rendering the complex entanglements of these scales and systems legible to a wide audience. These efforts will also help to showcase and promote local efforts towards a safe and equitable energy transition in Austin, Texas. 

Participants will work together in a larger collective, as well as in smaller “Field Teams” to produce new educational materials that reflect what they experience and learn in the field campus. The teams will be broken up according to their collective project’s thematic focus. We are currently planning for a Rhetoric Team, Civic Data Infrastructure Team, and an Environmental In/justice Team. Additionally, there will be an ethnographic film team that will be documenting the field campus and creating a short documentary about the campus and its outcomes. All applicants will be required to specify which Field Team(s) they have an interest in working with. More information about the Austin Anthropocene Campus Field Teams coming soon! 

Though each Field Team will develop their own set of guiding questions for their projects, all field campus participants will be asked to focus on how to make the intersection of energy production and use and environmental in/justice intelligible to a wide audience. Campus activities will involve placing ourselves meaningfully and helpfully into local discussions concerning the organization, planning, and governance of Austin’s transition from fossil fuels to carbon-free, renewable energy. Modes of interaction and production include: creating venues for discussion that might not be possible otherwise, serving as a corps of educators willing to work towards the production of open-source teaching materials, and training educators in public data collecting, digital archiving, and analysis. While our work during the field campus will be specifically rooted in our sites of study, one of our overarching goals will be to consider how the tactics enacted here can be deployed through similar tactics in other locations as well. The Anthropocene is global, but we must discover it locally, in the course of everyday life.


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Created date

January 26, 2020

Cite as

James Adams. 26 January 2020, "Austin Anthropocene Campus", Disaster STS Network, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 2 June 2020, accessed 13 August 2022.