Orange Alert

The 20th Annual Syracuse Symposium Continues this Spring to Explore Humanity’s Interconnected Landscapes

The event series will showcase how the humanities are pivotal to tackling a range of contemporary matters, including environmental and reproductive justice questions.

Jan. 18, 2024, by Kerrie Marshall


The Syracuse University Humanities Center continues to celebrate Syracuse Symposium’s 20th season, with a kaleidoscopic range of events centered on the theme of Landscapes. The entire campus community and wider public are invited to attend these free events across the spring semester.

The lineup features lectures, art exhibits and conversations that invite us as a community to immerse in art, narrative and architecture to raise our awareness about the environmental impacts of chemicals, mass extinction and colonialism. The events invite us to deepen a sense of ecological care, unpack environmental ethics and explore reproductive justice issues in a post-Roe world.

Contemplating Symposium’s 20th anniversary earlier this year, Vivian May, director of the Humanities Center and of the Central New York Humanities Corridor, noted that the annual series is core to the Center’s mission to advance humanities research, showcase the humanities as a public good and enhance our sense of shared community by bringing people together to confront some of the most pressing issues of our time.

“Connecting humanistic inquiry and expertise with broad questions of social justice and public welfare is fundamental to the Syracuse University Humanities Center's mission,” observes May. "This Spring, Landscapes explores complex global and local issues tied to our natural and built environments, but also our cultural and political landscapes. Whether through art, by learning from ancient trees, or by listening to reproductive justice advocates and healthcare workers on the ground, Landscapes examines the complex interplay of politics, histories and memories in shaping the diverse environments around us."

Spring Symposium Events

The 2024 Spring Symposium kicks off on February 13 with Chemscapes. Landscape architect Julie Bargmann (FASLA) will discuss imaginative strategies in architecture and design that reveal rather than conceal the chemical aspects and physical legacy of the built environment and post-industrial sites.

On February 22 a lecture, All Art is Ecological, by philosopher Timothy Morton from Rice University will explore how art provides a model for ecological ethics in a time of mass extinction. A gallery reception for the SU Art Museum’s spring exhibition, Assembly, will follow.

Historian and author Jared Farmer from University of Pennsylvania will give a talk on March 4, Slow Plants on a Burning Planet, to discuss how ancient trees, regarded as cultural and religious symbols, are under threat due to climate change.

On March 7, Environmental Storytelling CNY welcomes Susanna Sayler and Edward Morris, both of Syracuse University, for a conversation, Forging Ecological Awareness Through Art. They will discuss how art in the Assembly exhibition at the SU Art Museum deepens ecological understanding of the places we share.

The Landscape of Women’s Bodily Autonomy: Collaboration Toward Greater Access to Reproductive Freedom and Care in the U.S., on March 26, will feature a series of multi-disciplinary panels over the course of the afternoon focused on navigating the post-Roe landscape, followed by a closing reception. Speakers include SeQuoia Kemp (Syracuse doula and birth-worker), Lori Brown (SU Architecture), Shoshanna Ehrlich (UMass Boston), Kimala Price (San Diego State) and Melissa Shube (Planned Parenthood Federation of America).

On April 4, artist Sophia Chai will talk about her current exhibit at Light Work, Character Space, featuring a collection of photographs centered on the Korean alphabet and ideas of language, optics and photography. A reception will follow.

Anna Arabindon Kesson from Princeton will lead a discussion on April 11, Plantation Imaginaries: Art and Medicine in the Colonial World, exploring the representation of plantations in nineteenth-century British colonial art and how contemporary artists work with these histories to reimagine forms of care for each other and the environment.

Read more about the full Syracuse Symposium spring lineup, including all event details, times and locations.


Vivian M. May Professor

Media Contact

Kerrie Marshall