Conference Series Background

Donald Worster
Donald Worster (A. Bennett-Cooke)

The Under Western Skies biennial conference series at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada pays homage to Donald Worster, the environmental historian whose book by the same name is a landmark in ecocritical studies.

Under Western Skies: Climate, Culture, and Change in Western North America (October 2010)

Under Western Skies 2010 focused on the lands of western North America and saw 432 registrants coming from every part of the globe.

UWS 2010 won funding from the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NICHE), and planning occurred in partnership with Mount Royal’s Legacy of Ideas Speakers Series led by Lara Unsworth. The UWS  steering committee, made up by faculty, administration, students, and support services, was nominated for and received Mount Royal’s Effective Team Award for 2010-11. Over 200 post-secondary students from Calgary and beyond participated in and/or presented at the conference. Keynote moments were marked by renowned speakers, including environmental historian Richard White (Stanford), seed-saver and author Vandana Shiva (India), water expert and author Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians), and environmental journalist Andrew Nikiforuk (Calgary). The steering committee established a website for the conference at, and secured a contract with Wilfrid Laurier University Press for a collection of edited essays stemming from UWS 2010Found in Alberta: Environmental Themes for the Anthropocene is forthcoming in early 2014.


UWS 2012: Environment, Community, and Culture in North America

With a new website and organizing committee, UWS 2012 moved beyond the inaugural mandate, with a comprehensive focus on North America.  The conference was also supported by funding from SSHRC. The international gathering took place in October 2012 in the Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning, MRU’s LEED Gold certified building that housed the inaugural conference.  The bilingual Call For Papers was posted electronically around the globe, with six keynote speakers:

Near Weyburn, Saskatchewan (photo by Ian Burt).
(Ian Burt)

As happened at the inaugural UWS, keynotes gathered for a public roundtable on the afternoon of the final day of UWS 2012. Like the other keynote events, the roundtable finale was a public event.

Strategic goals for UWS2 included:

1. Public Outreach
2. Student Participation
3. Interdisciplinarity
4. Conference Innovation





UWS 2014: Intersections of Environments, Technologies, and Communities

(Michael Quinn)

September 9 – 12, 2014

Intersections of Environments, Technologies, and Communities

The 2014 conference was held on the Mount Royal University campus (Calgary, Alberta, CANADA) in the LEED Gold-certified Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning.

This third gathering in the series saw fifty-five interdisciplinary panels, seven keynote/plenary addresses, two receptions, a staged dramatic reading of a new play, four poster sessions, an interactive exhibition on the Berger Inquiry, and a new film on the environment.

Please see the Final Program for UWS2014. 

The 2014 major addresses were:

Tuesday, September 9/14

•Justice Thomas Berger

Idle No More, founding members and principal organizers

Adrian Ivakhiv (Film Studies), Rubenstein School for the Environment, University of Vermont

Wednesday, September 10/14

Patty Limerick (Environmental History), Center for the American West, University of Colorado Boulder

Bron Taylor (Religion and Nature), University of Florida

Thursday, September 11/14

Tim Ingold (Anthropology), University of Aberdeen

Friday, September 12/14

Winona Laduke (Indigenous Economics), White Earth, Minnesota

•Keynotes/Plenary Public Roundtable

David Schindler (Ecology), University of Alberta



Past conferences for Under Western Skies