The Obermann Humanities Symposium, Energy Cultures in the Age of the Anthropocene, will take place March 5-7 in downtown Iowa City.

Exploring the “age of humans” (the definition for “Anthropocene”), this interdisciplinary symposium will consider the simultaneous wealth and destruction created by humans’ dependence on fossil fuels, the exponential growth of humans as a species, and the flowering of human creativity—all prominent features of the age.

Public intellectuals, scholars, and artists will help us to make sense of humans’ relationship to energy, as we examine the values and practices that shape the way humans care for the planet and themselves.

Highlights of the symposium include presentations from Lonnie Thompson, a world-renowned geologist whose path-breaking work on ice core paleoclimatology has provided some of the most convincing evidence of anthropogenic global warming; Sandra Steingraber, a biologist, author, and cancer survivor whose multiple books explore the links between human health and the environment; and a dance and music performance choreographed by UI dance faculty member Jennifer Kayle to directly address the issues of the symposium.

The symposium is co-directed by three UI professors hailing from very different departments: Barbara Eckstein is a professor English who studies the relationship between story and sustainability whose work includes the book Sustaining New Orleans: Literature, Local Memory, and the Fate of a City; Tyler Priest is a history professor who studies the oil and gas industry and was a senior policy analyst on the President’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling; and Bradley Cramer, a professor in earth and environmental sciences who focuses on deep-time Earth history including an understanding of the major biotic, chemical, and physical events that punctuate the history of our planet.

For a complete schedule, bibliography, and biographies of the keynote speakers, visit

To delve into a deep collection of articles and works linked to the conference and view live Tweeting during the conference, check out the Twitter hashtag #uianthropocene.