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Terry Tempest Williams Named Annie Clark Tanner Fellow in Environmental Studies

October 13, 2003 — The Obert C. and Grace A. Tanner Humanities Center, in conjunction with the College of Humanities, is pleased to announce the three-year appointment of Terry Tempest Williams as the Annie Clark Tanner Fellow in Environmental Studies.

Ms. Williams, a Utah native, is nationally recognized as a writer, naturalist and environmental activist. She brings to the Tanner Humanities Center – and the broader University of Utah community – a rich experiential understanding of both the land and communities of Utah. “I am thrilled and deeply honored to be invited to join such a dynamic team as those in the College of Humanities and the Tanner Humanities Center. Their commitment to social change through the world of powerful ideas and ethical action helps students to develop both a conscience and consciousness of the fragile and beautiful world around them.”

Ms. Williams has served on the Governing Council for the Wilderness Society and as a member of the Presidents Council for Sustainable Development. She is currently on the Advisory Board of the National Parks and Conservation Association, the Nature Conservancy and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. An award winning and powerful writer, Ms. Williams has published numerous books, including perhaps her best-known, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. Her work has been widely anthologized and has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, The Nation, Outside, Audubon and The New England Review.

Robert Newman, Dean of the College of Humanities, notes “It is a delight and an honor to have Terry Tempest Williams join us as the first Annie Clark Tanner Fellow. Her acceptance of this appointment marks a significant step forward in the development of a center for the study of Humanities and the Environment.”

The fellowship, which begins in the Fall of 2004, is intended to ensure significant contributions to a humanities-based interpretation of environmental issues. As the first Annie Clark Tanner Fellow, Ms. Williams will be actively involved in the intellectual life of the Tanner Humanities Center as well as facilitating a series of naturalist lectures, much like Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 19th century Lyceum Lectures. “In fact, ” notes Dean Newman, “we’re tentatively referring to this lecture series as ‘Lyceum II’, and anticipate that academic and community interest will be tremendous.” Ms. Williams will give the inaugural lecture in this series March 25, 2004 at the Salt Lake Public Library. She also will teach a course in nature and writing in Red Rock country each June.

The Humanities and the Environment program represents a multidisciplinary approach that includes both academic studies and community outreach through partnerships with the Swaner Nature Reserve in Park City, UT and others. “The humanities bring substantive critical perspectives on issues of environmental degradation and their consequences in human dispossession,” states Dean Newman. “Through the environmental studies program, we’re seeking to integrate our academic, teaching and service missions in ways that will have long-term influence on how we perceive our relationship to and responsibility for the web of life on our planet.”

Students within the program will explore ethical, health and policy concerns through historical, cultural and creative perspectives. “To be part of the development of an environmental studies program at the University of Utah,” states Williams, “is to help create the curriculum I was looking for as a student at the U of U, but could not find. I was hungry for a program that focused on the integration of both science and the humanities, one that could create a bridge between landscape and language, a way to create fresh stories that bind us together in the place we call home. My priority now, as a writer and resident of this state, is to be able to work with students here in Utah, to inspire, expose, and educate the next generation as to the importance of an ethics of place. I believe it is only through education that we can begin to heal the wounds of polarized thinking that threaten to divide this country.”

For more information about Terry Tempest Williams, the Humanities and the Environment Studies or the College of Humanities, contact the Dean’s Office, College of Humanities (801) 581-6214.