Webinar: Ecological Grief: Loss, Mourning, and Imagining Alternative Futures

Tuyen Le's picture

Please join us for a salient discussion between two fantastic scholars. The webinar will be held on June 2, 12:00 pm CT. Details and registration can be found at: https://planitpurple.northwestern.edu/event/588681

Event description:

In a 2018 article in Nature Climate Change, Ashlee Consulo and Neville Ellis used the term “ecological grief” to describe “the grief felt in relation to experienced or anticipated ecological losses, including the loss of species, ecosystems, and meaningful landscapes due to acute or chronic environmental change.” As communities the world over endure one crisis after another, that such grief can be experienced at both individual and collective levels is hardly surprising, and it serves as a stark reminder that environmental change is not a future or distant issue; rather, it is here and now, and often deeply personal. In the face of the very real losses that we will continue to face, how do we acknowledge this grief, while also avoiding a sense of cynicism or resignation to an ecological dystopia?

In this event, reconciliation ecologist Dr. Madhusudan Katti and critical Indigenous studies scholar-artist Dr. Zoe Todd will discuss how we might respond to ecological grief in ways that work towards alternative futures that embody a more-than-human co-existence.  Conversation will be moderated by Dr. Tuyen Le (ACLS Postdoctoral Fellow, Kaplan Institute).


About the speakers

Dr. Madhusudan Katti is an Associate Professor in the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program for Leadership in Public Science and the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. An evolutionary ecologist by training, he now engages local communities and the broader public in studying how human activities and histories of colonization and segregation shape the distribution of nature and biodiversity in urban areas. His work centers Reconciliation Ecology—the application of evolutionary ecology to find real-world solutions for reconciling biodiversity conservation with human wellbeing. He is also interested in the ethics of ecological research, nature conservation, and of how humans learn to live with other species. He is actively engaged in rethinking and redesigning his own research and the teaching of ecology and conservation biology within a broader framework of decolonizing science.


Dr. Zoe Todd (Red River Métis) is a practice-led artist-researcher who studies the relationships between Indigenous sovereignty and freshwater fish futures in Canada. As a Métis anthropologist and researcher-artist, Dr. Todd combines dynamic social science and humanities research and research-creation approaches — including ethnography, archival research, oral testimony, and experimental artistic research practices — within a framework of Indigenous philosophy to elucidate new ways to study and support the complex relationships between Indigenous sovereignty and freshwater fish well-being in Canada today. They are a co-founder of the Institute for Freshwater Fish Futures (2018), which is a collaborative Indigenous-led initiative that is 'restor(y)ing fish futures, together' across three continents. They were a 2018 Yale Presidential Visiting Fellow, and in 2020 they were elected to the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars.

Greetings, just a FYI that there are two terms that seem to be used interchangeably although you will see that they are indeed different. Environmental grief is defined as the grief reaction stemming from the environmental loss of ecosystems caused by natural or human-made events. Ecological grief is the grief reaction stemming from the disconnection, and relational loss, from our natural world. I coined both these terms decades ago.

"While ecology represented a major paradigm shift in understanding nature, very few were able to apply its insights to understanding the afflictions of the mind. The ecologist, Phyllis Windle, in her essay "The Ecology of Grief", pioneered a bridge between professional ecology and psychological grief (Windle 1995), and her opening of this transdisciplinary space was followed later by the thanatologist Kriss Kevorkian, who explained that desolation in terms she named 'environmental grief' and/or 'ecological grief' (Kevorkian 2004, 2019). These terms, and the grief theory that underpins them, have recently re-appeared in the literature as a response to the climate crisis." Dr. Glenn Albrecht