The Provisional City

Observing, Imagining, and reMaking Home

Humans are builders. We consider in our building not only comfort and convenience but also ornamentation and aesthetics. Like many species--birds, beavers, ants, even plants--we believe we shape the world around us to fit our needs.

Or do we? The worlds we create work as much upon us as we on them. We build cities on favorable sites (location, location, location), usually near water and food sources that also attract other animals, channeling and storing that water and fashioning attractions like parks and attractive nuisances like garbage dumps. In so doing, we act according to our natures and as part of nature, even as we alter the nature that surrounds us. But brainpower and sheer numbers give us an outsized influence on the rest of nature, and bring a commensurate responsibility to become increasingly thoughtful about how to exercise that influence, raising an urgent question: If we accept that human beings are part of nature, not separate from it, how do we bring human nature to bear in a positive way on our built environment?

The Utah Symposium in Science and Literature will bring together poet Cole Swensen, biologist John Marzluff, and visual/environmental artist Mel Chin to consider these questions, alongside thinkers ranging from ecologists, psychologists, urban planners, engineers, and novelists. Together, we will discuss how our new knowledge and insights can, and perhaps must, give us a way to reconceive what nature is, and to manage the impact we now have on virtually every piece of land on earth, as well as the impact it has on us.

Registration is appreciated. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register. If you are registering for multiple people include their names as well.

umfa black boxArtLandish logo NHMU  Co-presented with and hosted by the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Co-Directed by Katharine Coles and Fred Adler
Office of the Vice President for Research
201 S. Presidents Circle, Room 210 Salt Lake City, UT 84112 (801) 581-7236