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History of the Arts, Environment & Humanities Network

In fall 2012, under the direction of IE Co-director Diana Liverman, an arts, humanities, and environment committee met to begin development of the Arts & Environment Network. Along with Liverman, that group included Christopher Cokinos, Alison Deming, Gregg Garfin, Eric Magrane, and Ellen McMahon. An awareness of the UA and Tucson as vibrant places for art and environment interactions helped guide the group’s goal to build on the community’s existing strengths and work toward developing ongoing and sustained multidisciplinary art and environment initiatives.

Barbara Morehouse, former deputy director of the Institute of the Environment, had written a series of columns on art, science, and environment for IE from 2009 to 2011. In a piece that reflected on conversations with UA Regents’ Professor and pianist Paula Fan, she wrote: “This is not about making scientists out of artists or vice versa; it is perhaps more about rethinking the Renaissance ideal of intellectual versatility in the context of very complicated times.” Beginning in 2012, Eric Magrane, then a research associate at IE, took on these art-science-environment columns through his blog Proximities.

From 2012 to 2015, the network hosted lunch meetings and five-minute TED talk-like presentations that brought together a broad interdisciplinary group to discuss art and environment and ways to move the initiative forward. IE also brought in speakers such as Bill Fox, director of the Center for Art + Environment in Reno, Nevada, to explore broader regional collaborations. IE also added a creative category to the annual Environmental Grad Blitz to foster interactions between artists, creative writers, and environmental scientists at the graduate level.

In 2016, the network's name was expanded to Arts, Environment & Humanities Network recognize the growing involvement of environmental humanities scholars.

Ellen McMahon currently serves at the director of the network. The network continues to convene multidisciplinary events for researchers, artists, writers, and humanities and social science scholars, fostering spaces for conversation and collaboration. 

If you’d like to join the network, or to hear more, email Ellen McMahon at