Dr. Shannon Orr, political science, will explore some of the questions recently touched upon in director Ken Burns’ series on America’s national parks in a talk on “Cultural Meaning and Wilderness: Re-Envisioning Protected Land.”
Orr’s lecture, at 2:30 pm. Thursday (Oct. 15) in 207 Bowen-Thompson Student Union, will examine how conflict between multiple cultural groups over the meaning or significance of protected areas such as national parks threatens the sustainability of those protected areas. Her talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Artists and Scholars in Residence Series, organized and operated by the campus Institute for Culture and Society.
Through her discussion of how values and meanings are socially created and contested around national parks, Orr draws our attention to environmental management systems. She explores how we can better address the inevitable social/cultural conflicts of meaning about wilderness and protection instead of relying on traditional bureaucratic decision making.
Using case studies of Canada’s Banff National Park, South Africa’s Kruger National Park and Colombia’s Macarena National Park, Orr will offer a larger portrait of how environmental management systems work and how our sense of what parks are for affects these systems.
Her teaching and research interests focus on the tension between competing interests and constructions of problems in the field of public policy, in particular climate change and national parks. She has published widely, including essays in PS: Political Science and Politics, the International Journal of Politics and Ethics, and the American Review of Politics. Currently a Fellow at ICS, she is developing her research on “Cultural Meaning and Wilderness Re-Envisioning Protected Land.”