August activities and Zobel project summer shutdown

Last week I attended an international Summer School at the University of Oxford on Ecoliteracy.

Ecoliteracy is a broad term which refers to a range of different practices and theories focusing on how we interact with the natural world. In our current, rapidly urbanizing western societies, it is increasingly clear that an urgent rethinking of our relationship with nature is required.

I’ve blogged before about the importance of the environment in Zobel’s works, and my experiments at using the branch of literary theory called ecocriticism to address this neglected aspect of his work. I’ve also mentioned my new role at the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) and you can read more about this here..

BiFoR and UoB logos and treeFrom his literature to his interest in Ikebana, the environment and the place of the human being within wider systems is something that urgently needs to be explored and reassessed in Zobel’s work.

The Oxford course was fantastic – the attendees hailed from many different continents and we were encouraged by our excellent teacher Jane Corbett to draw as much on our own experiences as on the theories about the environment that were on our reading list. My colleagues shared their own expertise in fields as diverse as health and safety, waste management, psychiatry, biology, retirement living and teacher training, which made for a rich and stimulating week.

It provided very fertile conditions (excuse the pun) to explore the environment in Zobel and I enjoyed setting my thoughts down on paper for my end-of-course assignment.

As a continuing professional development activity, it was refreshing to once again be the student (I’m not sure that ever stops)!

flower

I also had the pleasure of seeing some Martinican colleagues who were visiting the UK. I took them on a whistle-stop tour of Oxford, and in amongst visiting colleges, they brought me up to date on progress with the Joseph Zobel centenary in Martinique. They were also excited to hear about what the Guardian termed my “Indiana Jones moment” 🙂

Now, it’s back to my desk! I’ll be focusing on drafting my book chapters for the rest of August, and then having a period of annual leave, so I’ll return to the blog in late September – à bientôt!

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