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Life in the Plasticene Artist/Scientist Round Table

September 14, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Join Artists/Scientists Marcus Eriksen, Kelsi Nagy, Patrick Chandler and David Oonk in a virtual round table discussion of their work integrating art and storytelling with social and environmental science as part of the current exhibition Life in the Plasticene at the Arbor Institute in Boulder, CO.

Eriksen and other pioneering plastic pollution researchers call for a radical shift in how we discuss the problem that’s harming life in all environments on Earth — on land, not just in the sea. Rivers, Cows, Camels, Oceans, Birds, and, yes, Humans, are all evolving in ways we don’t yet fully understand because of the plastic waste that humans create. There isn’t a place on Earth that isn’t touched by plastic.

Some of the questions that will guide our discussion:

How did we get here? Where do we want to go from here? 

How can art, ecological science, and storytelling work together address critical environmental issues? How does the practice of art/science inquiry inspire compassionate action?

What changes at the individual, community and policy levels can make the greatest difference?

How do we find hope when we feel and understand the true breadth and depth of impact of our human activity?

We look forward to a rich conversation exploring these questions and the merging streams of life and plastic worldwide.


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About the Panelists:

Environmental scientist, educator and author Marcus Eriksen co-founded the 5 Gyres Institute to research plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, and recently co-founded LEAP LAB, a network of science centers committed to building self-reliant communities.  His books chronicle rafting adventures down rivers and across oceans, and highlight his experience as a veteran of war and science. Eriksen lectures on marine conservation, especially the impact of plastics on the world’s oceans, breaking down the complexity of stakeholder objectives and identifying common ground and actionable solutions. He’s led more than 20 expeditions through the 5 Gyres Institute exploring and researching the world’s oceans. As the co-founder of LEAP LAB, he also lectures on biophilia, and the role of art, science and self-reliance to achieve urban resilience.


Kelsi Nagy teaches environmental ethics at the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University. Nagy received her Ph.D. in Cultural Geography from Oxford University and holds an M.A. in Anthrozoology from Canisius College and an M.A. in Philosophy from Colorado State University. She is the co-editor of Trash Animals: How We Live with Filthy, Feral, Invasive, and Unwanted Species (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), an associate fellow at the Oxford Center for Animal Ethics and a recipient of a Culture and Animals Foundation grant.


Patrick Chandler is a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado, Boulder who has fifteen years’ experience working in and developing environmental education, stewardship, and science programs. His current focus is the co-creation of guidelines to help bring together partners from multiple epistemologies to collaborate on projects for a sustainable future, including working with artists and arts organizations to catalyze collective action on social and environmental issues. Chandler previously served as the education director for the Washed Ashore Project, as the International Coastal Cleanup Coordinator for Alaska and the Special Programs Coordinator for the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.


David Oonk is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Re-Engineered in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University’s. Re-Engineered challenges the status quo model of engineering by embedding social justice, peace, and ecological holism into engineering design and decision-making while working on global issues including energy systems, climate change, environmental policy and governance, space systems, and more. Oonk earned his PhD in Technology, Media and Society at CU Boulder with a Graduate Certificate in Science and Energy Policy and served as an Associate Scientist with the Education and Outreach Group at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences Education Outreach Group (CIRES) while at CU Boulder. 



Life in the Plasticene was created in partnership with CU Boulder Environmental Studies PhD student and CIRES Graduate Assistant Patrick Chandler and made possible thanks to generous funding by the Nature, Environment, Science & Technology (NEST) Studio for the Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder

Additional support provided the Inland Ocean CoalitionWashed Ashore, and 5 Gyres Institute.



September 14, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Categories:


Arbor Institute Online