By Mindy Wilson, marketing and communications director, Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Scholars and creators from across the sciences and humanities will gather at the Utah Symposium of Science and Literature this week to examine human impact on the earth.

Poet Cole Swensen, biologist John Marzluff and visual-environmental artist Mel Chin are the featured speakers at “The Provisional City: Observing, Imagining, and reMaking Home,” April 12–14.

“This year’s symposium aims to consider how humans shape and are shaped by their environments, as well as how the environments they influence disrupt and create habitats for other creatures,” said Katharine Coles, professor of English.

Coles and Frederick Adler, professor of mathematics and biology, co-direct the symposium.

Swensen, an award-winning poet, will discuss the work of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, an avid traveler, journalist, social critic and conservationist who viewed the public park in light of its social ramifications and moral dimensions.

Marzluff, James W. Ridgeway Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington and author of “Welcome to Subirdia,” will examine the phenomenon of rich bird life within suburban landscapes and how humans can sustain and steward this diversity.

Chin, known for the broad range of approaches in his visual art and his pioneering work in green remediation, will discuss his work as an evolutionary process compelled by circumstances that force redirection of his practice.

Keynote events


Cole Swensen, Wednesday, April 12, 7–8 p.m., UMFA


John Marzluff, Thursday, April 13, 7–8 p.m., NHMU


Mel Chin, Friday, April 14, 9:30–10:30 a.m., UMFA


Closing roundtable discussion (all keynote speakers), Friday, 10:45–11:45 a.m., UMFA

The symposium is supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research, the College of Humanities and the David Eccles School of Business. The UMFA is co-presenting the symposium as part of its “ARTLandish: Land Art, Landscape, and the Environment” series, sponsored by the S. J. and Jessie E. Quinney FoundationThe Natural History Museum of Utah is also hosting symposium events.

Visit scienceandliterature.org for a full schedule of events. The symposium is free and open to the public, though registration is suggested for guaranteed seating. To register, contact Whitney Reid at whitney.reid@utah.edu or 801-581-7237.