As part of the Royal Holloway COP26 Forum, members of the Classics department have been participating in a range of events and activities to demonstrate how the university’s community is contributing to meeting the challenges posed by climate change and ecological loss, decarbonisation and helping to generate creative engagements and solutions.
Infographic of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
On Tuesday 2nd November, Dr. Zena Kamash took part in Health in the Anthropocene, a discussion focused around how to promote human health next to environmental health, and draw out alternative ways of handling healthcare. Dr. Kamash spoke about her on work with wellbeing initiatives in conflict and post-conflict regions, particularly Iraq. She also discussed the climate emergency and the role museums might play with students on the core course of our intercollegiate MA in Classical Art and Archaeology, and will be discussing similar issues with third year students taking her course on the archaeology of the Roman Middle East.
Dr. Erica Rowan co-organized and participated in an evening organised by the School of Humanities Food Group on Tuesday 9th November. Food And Drink On The Brink: Sustainable Eating On Campus - A Long View looked at catering outlets on campus, and what meaningful changes might be made to our provision and consumption in the college. Attendees were also able to sample sustainable chocolate, olive oil and bitter balls as part of their discussion.
Dr. Liz Gloyn spoke at The Blazing World: Stories of Climate Catastrophe on Friday 12th November. This event explored narratives around climate catastrophe in fiction across a wide range of media, and reflected on the role of creative practice in the climate crisis. Dr. Gloyn noted that creative receptions of the climate catastrophe created by the explosion of Vesuvius offers an entry-point into these questions.
Dr. Rowan and Dr. Gloyn also contributed blog posts to a series exploring the UN Sustainability Goals and how the work of colleagues on campus relates to achieving them. Dr. Rowan wrote about how past human perspectives might help us engage with Life On Land; Dr. Gloyn explored how she sees the goals of Inclusive Education and Gender Quality entwining within her work.
Although COP26 is over, on 18th November the Classics Society will be hosting a Symposium on Classics and the Climate Emergency, featuring Dr. Efi Spentzou on "Phaethon: Climate Anxiety and Classical Myth"; Prof. Lene Rubinstein on "Flooding and Legal Responses in Classical Greece"; and Prof. Richard Alston on "Ends of the World: Ecology, Climate and Societal Collapse".
The department's participation in the COP26 activities highlights the ways in which the ancient world provides us a space for thinking through contemporary problems and challenges - especially those as pressing as the ones posed by the climate crisis.