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Stephen Collis receives $20,000 grant to host geopoetics symposium and residency

November 12, 2020

By Jacob Lee

Geopoetics is an emerging field in which poetics and geographical studies meet, exploring the holistic concept of what it means to exist on Earth, amidst the dominant reality of an anthropocentric point of view or the human impact on this planet.

Stephen Collis, Acting Director of the FCAT Publishing Program and professor in the Department of English, is a lead scholar in the studies of environmental and place-based concerns, and he is an accomplished poet who explores these topics in essays, as well as poetry and non-fiction books. 

His latest research project, “Geopoetics Symposium and Residency,” recently received a $20,000 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The project involves a three-day symposium and five-day residency in April 2021 hosted at Hollyhock, a non-profit, community-based conference centre on Cortes Island, BC. 

The project is a collaboration with faculty member Mark Fettes and graduate student Michael Datura from SFU’s Faculty of Education, as well as poet and independent scholar and artist, Erin Robinsong.

Collis and his colleagues will gather participants who study in the field of geopoetics, including poets, geographers, place-based educators, artists, and scholars to facilitate discussion that questions the reality of scholarship, art, and education in the Anthropocene. 

The event has a few main objectives:

1. Advance collaborations and connections among scholars and practitioners across a variety of fields, with a particular focus on the mutual enrichment of geopoetics and place-based artistic production and education;

2. Involve and mentor graduate students and junior scholars whose careers will unfold in the context of the ongoing climate crisis and biodiversity loss;

3. Bring a range of scholarship in the social sciences and humanities to bear on the theoretical and practical challenges of engaging with a multivalent and more-than-human world, as a way of contributing to ongoing Canadian and global debated about how to respond to the current crisis;

4. Envision, design and eventually produce a publication based on conference discussions, writings and happenings. They anticipate that the residency will play a key role in nurturing the authorial and editorial collaborations essential to the realization of this work.

Despite the current conditions and potential event restrictions due to COVID-19, Collis and his colleagues hope to not only unite people who study geopolitics in their academic careers, but to also livestream or pre-record some of the sessions, making them available to the public.