Posted on September 19, 2008 by Tia Lalani

Glen Hvenegaard will be giving a professorial lecture on ‘nurturing meaning in natural places’

by Christa Hanson 


Glen Hvenegaard is an environmental professor at the Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta. As a result of his recent promotion to the rank of Professor, he has been asked to give a professorial lecture on a topic of his choice. His Iecture is titled “Nurtur­ing Meaning in Natural Places” and looks at how personal attachment to natural places creates meaningful experiences and a greater appreciation for those areas. I sat down to talk with him about his passions and interests within his field of education.
Christa Hanson: What personal experience drove you to the study of environmental science?
Glen Hvenegaard: Growing up in the country, I had lots of natural space around me, so I could roam, explore, and interact in these places with friends and by myself. My parents were also important as scouting leaders. We did a lot of outdoor activities such as camping and skiing. There were a couple of courses at university that really engaged me, not just in outdoors but in parks and conservation. One course in particular was an identification and ecology course for the wildlife of Alberta. It was a great experience. You have to learn a little bit about how [all the parts fit together] before you can appreciate the whole picture.
CH: In your write up for this lecture you have a quote by Wendell Berry; “You can’t know who you are until you know where you are.” Why did you pick that particular quote?
GH: Wendell Berry is a profound writer; he’s a poet, he’s a farmer, he’s a critic. He writes a lot about connecting to the land. I think we all need to connect to some land. Well, I think we can be more general. We need to connect. Period. To the divine, to people, to the landscape, to a place. My focus is natural places, and I don’t apologize for that but I realize and respect the other kinds of connections. I think we can understand a lot about ourselves we figure out what influenced us as we grew up. You remember back and you know what you did and the places that you went. Those places really shape who you are. You can’t shake your physical and historical background. It’s always going to be with you. I grew up in the prairies and it’s always going to be with me, and continues to influence me.
CH: What would you tell someone interested in coming to your lecture?
GH: I think we all have an inner desire to connect; that connection can be to society, people, but also to natural places, and making that connection with real meaning provides us with many benefits: personal awareness, understanding, better management, and being able to go confidently into the future with critical information. We are increasingly disconnected with natural places and that’s a concern because the world can change on a dime and if we don’t have that connection……
CH: How are you going to keep it from changing?
GH: We can’t stop the world from changing, but can maintain this connection. Without that connection, Bill McKibben says we’ll enter an age of missing information. I think there’s an esoteric dimension but also a practical dimension as well.
CH: Like it’s a necessity because it relates to everyone, whether they want it to or not…
GH: Yeah, exactly. It’s like saying who isn’t an environmentalist. We all are. Do you breathe air? Do you drink water? Do you eat food? You ought to be concerned, they all come from the environment!
Glen’s talk is on September 24th 2008 at 7:00 p.m. in Augustana’s Faith and Life Chapel. He invites all members of the community to attend, both near and far.

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