Intersections of Language and Nature: Conservation, Documentation, and Access

Karen Park's picture
September 6, 2019 to September 8, 2019
Pennsylvania, United States
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Environmental History / Studies, Geography, Indigenous Studies, Languages

In the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages we invite you to join us in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 6th and 7th to explore Intersections of Language and Nature: Conservation, Documentation, and Access.  

The two-day symposium brings together scholars from indigenous communities, conservation practice, the arts, and academia to address the parallel threats facing linguistic and biological diversity and explore opportunities for collaboration.

As scholarship on biocultural diversity has demonstrated, interesting correlations have been observed across linguistic and biological diversity.  Using ethno-ornithology as a framework, we will investigate the potential for holistic approaches to conservation and scholarship implicit in these observations. 

We believe opportunity can be found in:

  • Greater interdisciplinary and intercultural synergy; 

  • Global connectivity and citizen science initiatives enabled by current technology; 

  • And in decolonization of local knowledge through local-to-global networks, recognition of a multiplicity of knowledge systems, and improved accessibility.


Integration of local linguistic and cultural knowledge systems with biological conservation practice is key to political and community engagement efforts, particularly within a locally managed conservation framework.  Equally, working together across disciplines in recognition of the interrelatedness of people, language, and place may lead to better systems of language documentation and a more nuanced understanding of local knowledge in conservation practice, as well as provide a global stage by which local communities can actively engage in dialogue relevant to their cultures and environments.  




  • How are intersections of language and nature relevant to conservation of species and languages?

  • How does traditional ecological knowledge contribute to the conservation of nature and language?

  • How can we better engage communities as stewards of their local cultures and environments?


  • How can we improve our understanding of both global language and species distribution?

  • How can technology enhance language and species documentation?

  • How can we better recognize and collaborate with local knowledge holders?


  • How can we make knowledge and resources more widely accessible?

  • How do we communicate back to the global community that there are locally meaningful practices of conservation in action and how do we protect that space?

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Mailing Address:

Dr. Karen Park

2816 Cathedral of Learning; Department of Linguistics; University of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh, PA; 15260

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