Natures is an annual interdisciplinary humanities conference hosted on the campus of La Sierra University in Riverside, California. Established in 2009 as a graduate student conference, the event broadened its invitation to include humanities scholars at all levels of their careers in 2013 in celebration of its fifth anniversary.
The name for the Natures conference arose from two convictions: (1) that the various disciplines housed in the humanities each have their own respective natures, perspectives, and techniques, but that communication between them is vital and (2) that the environment is emerging as a critical part of that discussion between humanities scholars.
The conference icon, a tree with curling branches and lightening bolt roots in a field of grass, is the work of Tiffany Hutabarat, a former English graduate student at La Sierra University and an organizer for the inaugural conference, who went on to study for her PhD in Humanities. The duality of the image, the variation in stroke styles, and the combination of the natural and textual reflect the aspirations of the graduate students who initiated the conference in 2009 as an event in which graduate scholars could go below the surface of their disciplines, find the connection between their lives as students and their futures as scholars, and express themselves as budding professionals.
The faculty of the English and Communication department, the History, Politics, and Society department, and the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at La Sierra University were all early and eager supports of Natures.
The faculty sponsor for Natures since 2009 has been Dr. Lora Geriguis, Associate Professor of English and Director of the MA in English program at La Sierra University. Her experiences organizing graduate conferences while a PhD student proved to her the value of such disciplinary service at an early stage in one's academic career. Her efforts in sponsoring Natures are designed to "pay forward" this valuable mentoring experience to her graduate students.
Link to more information about the MA in English program at La Sierra University via ContactUs. Read the department newsletter, The Bibliophile, which includes stories about Natures here: http://www.lasierra.edu/index.php?id=1023.
The Natures Conference
The Natures conference was established in 2009 out of a growing awareness that environmental studies was an arena in which various disciplines could find common ground. While papers delivered at the conference cover a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to environmental ones, that original value for interdisciplinary representation persists. Natures provides young and seasoned scholars the opportunity to share their work from across the broad spectrum of the humanities, explore the variety of critical identities, and participate in the growing field of ecocriticism.