Global Challenges 2020

Communicating crises across a divided public (video recording)

Students requested an event on the dissonance that negatively impacts public understanding and governmental/societal progress on crises. Dr. Vicky Lawson (geography professor/Director of UW Honors) moderated a robust conversation between three UW teachers/thought leaders whose work interacts with this topic. Jeanette Bushnell, Clarence Spigner and Michelle Koutnik bring perspectives from glaciology, indigenous philosophy, public health, and so much more to our first (and hopefully only) online Global Challenges/Interdisciplinary Answers event.

Portraits of Clarence Spigner, Jeanette Bushnell and Michelle Koutnik - 2020 Global Challenges speakers

Jeanette Bushnell

Jeanette Bushnell teaches a wide range of subjects for the Comparative History of Ideas (CHID) and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies (GWSS). Across her many publications and courses, Bushnell sets forth an indigenous philosophical perspective not often represented in academia and she is a proud member of the Anishinaabe first nation of North America. She blends her background in public health with fields of anthropology, American Indian history, arts and philosophy, with feminist indigenous practices to promote awareness and collaboration around issues like climate change, crisis in public health, and systemic suppression and oppressions.

Bushnell’s ongoing work on the N.D.N. Players Research Group focuses on indigene and games. She’s recently helped to create a podcast on economic systems while consulting on various projects in educational game development. She teaches often in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program and will offer her seminar: “Stories of Knowledge/Knowledge of Stories” next spring.

Clarence Spigner

Clarence Spigner is a professor of social and behavioral sciences in the School of Public Health. He is also program director for the Masters in Public Health program and holds appointments in Global Health, in American Ethnic Studies and in the African Studies Program. Spigner directs a popular study abroad program which addresses racism, health and society in Great Britain. Spigner conducts research and leads courses addressing the health of marginalized populations, including a course on Black Lives Matter and police violence.

Spigner regularly leads Interdisciplinary Honors seminars, including “Race, Gender, Diaspora in Population Health” in winter 2021. Spigner is presently developing a course on the intersection of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter protests.

Michelle Koutnik

Michelle Koutnik is a glaciologist who studies ice in Greenland, Antarctica, and glaciers in the Pacific Northwest, as well as ice on Mars. Koutnik is a research faculty member in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences within the College of the Environment, and she teaches in the Jackson School of International Studies and in the UW Honors Program. Koutnik will teach a Calderwood public writing seminar for Honors this winter: “Science and Society in a Changing Climate.”

Koutnik’s interdisciplinary courses intentionally use the state of ice and climate science as a foundation from which societal impacts of environmental change can be understood and communicated. Her research on land ice contributes to an interdisciplinary goal to understand how the earth system works, and this matters to all of us – science is critical to addressing the inequities and uncertainties of how land ice loss will affect people around the world.

Learn more about our Global Challenges Series