Meet the Inaugural Cohort of Red Natural History Fellows

  • Mar 7, 2023

As environmental emergencies intensify, more and more scholars and scientists are working directly with communities to expose the impacts of industrial pollution on public health, protect sacred items or ancestral remains in the path of proposed pipelines, and sound the alarm about the systemic causes of climate change, leveraging their expertise and institutional resources in support of our shared struggle for a world beyond extraction.

Today, we’re announcing the launch of the Red Natural History Fellowship, a new two-year program that supports this growing movement by connecting, cross-pollinating, and catalyzing collaborations among emerging and established scholars, writers, and practitioners who are working to make change in natural history fields—from critical geography to conservation science, museum practice, landscape architecture, and archaeology.

We are proud to support eight Senior Fellows in creating public scholarship and field-building (or field-pushing) initiatives that can serve to accelerate change; redress colonial and environmental harms, and advance–in both theory and practice–a vision for and version of natural history that honors generations past, and charts the path to a just future for all life on Earth.

We’re excited to introduce this group of scholar-activists as the first cohort of Red Natural History Fellows!


Red Natural History Fellows, 2023-25

Alberto Acosta is an Ecuadorian economist. He is currently a university professor, lecturer, and, above all, a comrade of popular struggles. He was formerly Minister of Energy and Mining (2007), President of the Constituent Assembly (2007-08) that enshrined the rights of Mother Nature in Ecuador’s constitution, co-author of Ecuador’s offer to forgo oil exploitation in the Yasuni National Park, and a candidate for President of the Republic (2012-13).
Andrew Curley (Diné) is an assistant professor in the School of Geography, Development, and Environment at the University of Arizona. Curley’s research focuses on the everyday incorporation of Indigenous nations into colonial economies. Building on ethnographic research, his publications speak to how Indigenous communities understand coal, energy, land, water, infrastructure, and development in an era of energy transition and climate change.
Ashley Dawson is professor of postcolonial studies in the English department at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. His latest books include People’s Power: Reclaiming the Energy Commons (O/R, 2020), Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change(Verso, 2017), andExtinction: A Radical History (O/R, 2016). A member of the Social Text Collective and the founder of the CUNY Climate Action Lab, he is a long-time climate justice activist.
Billy Fleming is the Wilks Family Director of the Ian L. McHarg Center in the Weitzman School of Design. Billy is co-editor of An Adaptation Blueprint (Island Press, 2021), co-editor and co-curator of the book–and now internationally-traveling exhibit–Design With Nature Now (Lincoln, 2019), and author of the forthcoming Drowning America: The Nature and Politics of Adaptation (Penn Press, expected 2022). He is lead author of The 2100 Project: An Atlas for the Green New Deal.
Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes) is a lecturer of American Indian studies at California State University San Marcos and an independent educator in American Indian environmentalism and policy, traditional ecological knowledge, religion and philosophy, Native women’s activism, American Indians and sports, and decolonization. Dina is the author of two books; the most recent is the award-winning As Long As Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice from Colonization to Standing Rock.
Kai Bosworth is a geographer and assistant professor of international studies in the School of World Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the author of Pipeline Populism: Grassroots Environmentalism in the 21st Century.
Natchee Blu Barnd is associate professor of ethnic studies and Native American studies at Oregon State University, and editor of the Ethnic Studies Review. He is author of numerous articles and Native Space: Geographic Strategies to Unsettle Settler Colonialism (OSU Press, 2017).
Rosalyn LaPier (Blackfeet/MĂ©tis) is an award-winning Indigenous writer, ethnobotanist, and environmental activist with a BA in physics and PhD in environmental history. She works within Indigenous communities to revitalize Indigenous and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), to address environmental justice and the climate crisis, and to strengthen public policy for Indigenous languages.

In their first act as Fellows, these leading thinkers and practitioners have written essays, published as a collection in the journal Social Text, that introduce readers to the ideas, histories, and contemporary practices that define “red natural history”: a way of seeing, sharing, and shaping the ever-unfolding history of life and land that decisively breaks from the natural history fields’ extractive and colonial legacy.

Over the next two years, Fellows will take part in panel discussions, events at academic and professional conferences, videos, publications, and campaigns to protect, restore and renew water, land, sacred sites, cultural lifeways and public health.