The 6th Annual Robert J. Berkhofer Jr. Lecture on Native American Studies: A Conversation with Robin Kimmerer
Robin Wall Kimmerer, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, founder of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment
The Native American Studies program at the University of Michigan requests sponsorship for the sixth annual Berkhofer Lecture on Native American Studies to be given virtually by Robin Kimmerer.
The past five Berkhofer Lectures, featuring Tommy Orange, author of the bestselling New York Times novel There There, were grand affairs, with some 300 people in attendance each year. These audiences consisted of students and faculty from U-M, interested residents of Ann Arbor, Native Americans from the Metro-Detroit area, and with the event now online, audiences worldwide. In asking Robin Kimmerer, a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment we seek to shift the focus of the Berkhofer lecture to highlight emerging indigenous literary talent.
The Berkhofer Lecture series (named for a former U-M professor and founder of the field of Native American studies) was established in 2014 by an alumni gift from the Dan and Carmen Brenner family of Seattle, Washington. In close consultation with the Brenners, Native American Studies decided to create a public lecture series featuring prominent, marquee speakers who would draw audiences from different communities (faculty and students, Ann Arbor and Detroit, and Michigan tribal communities as well as writers and readers of all persuasions). Native American students at U-M have consistently expressed their desire to make Native Americans more visible both on campus and off, and we believe that this lecture takes a meaningful step in that direction. Additionally, because of the statewide publicity it generates, we think it is already becoming another recruitment incentive for Native American students. It goes without saying that the speakers we are inviting provide tremendous value to the mission and work of Native American Studies at U-M.
Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, which has earned Kimmerer wide acclaim. Her first book, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing, and her other work has appeared in Orion, Whole Terrain, and numerous scientific journals. She tours widely and has been featured on NPR’s On Being with Krista Tippett and in 2015 addressed the general assembly of the United Nations on the topic of “Healing Our Relationship with Nature.” Kimmerer lives in Syracuse, New York, where she is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, whose mission is to create programs that draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability. www.robinwallkimmerer.com/