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SEPTEMBER 6-8, 2019

Connolly Ballroom, Alumni Hall

Language and Nature

Conservation, Documentation, and Access

For those of you who cannot join us in person, we will be sharing many of the Symposium panels and talks by Live Stream.  
Live Stream links (and approximate times) can be found on the Program page of this site.
Main Symposium Venue
Connolly Ballroom, Alumni Hall
University of Pittsburgh



September 6-7, 2019


Field Trip

September 8


University of Pittsburgh 

Pittsburgh, PA


In the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages we invite you to join us in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 6th and 7th to explore Intersections of Language and Nature: Conservation, Documentation, and Access.  


The two-day symposium, supported by a Global Academic Partnership grant through the Office of the Provost at the University of Pittsburgh, brings together scholars from indigenous communities, conservation practice, the arts, and academia to address the parallel threats facing linguistic and biological diversity and explore opportunities for collaboration.


As scholarship on biocultural diversity has demonstrated, interesting correlations have been observed across linguistic and biological diversity.  Using ethno-ornithology as a framework, we will investigate the potential for holistic approaches to conservation and scholarship implicit in these observations. 


We believe opportunity can be found in:

  • Greater interdisciplinary and intercultural synergy; 

  • Global connectivity and citizen science initiatives enabled by current technology; 

  • And in decolonization of local knowledge through local-to-global networks, recognition of a multiplicity of knowledge systems, and improved accessibility.


Integration of local linguistic and cultural knowledge systems with biological conservation practice is key to political and community engagement efforts, particularly within a locally managed conservation framework.  Equally, working together across disciplines in recognition of the interrelatedness of people, language, and place may lead to better systems of language documentation and a more nuanced understanding of local knowledge in conservation practice, as well as provide a global stage by which local communities can actively engage in dialogue relevant to their cultures and environments.  



  • How are intersections of language and nature relevant to conservation of species and languages?

  • How does traditional ecological knowledge contribute to the conservation of nature and language?

  • How can we better engage communities as stewards of their local cultures and environments?


  • How can we improve our understanding of both global language and species distribution?

  • How can technology enhance language and species documentation?

  • How can we better recognize and collaborate with local knowledge holders?


  • How can we make knowledge and resources more widely accessible?

  • How do we communicate back to the global community that there are locally meaningful practices of conservation in action and how do we protect that space?


Participants are invited to submit abstracts for poster sessions on any aspect of the intersections of nature and language.  If you are interested in taking part in the poster sessions, please send an abstract of no more than 500 words to before July 15th.  Notification of acceptance will be sent to the authors by July 20th.


Poster abstract submission: July 15th


Symposium: September 6-7


Fieldtrip: September 8


Registration Closes: September 1





Mail: Dr. Karen Park

2816 Cathedral of Learning

Department of Linguistics

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA




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 Karen Park

University of Pittsburgh 

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Felice Wyndham

University of Oxford

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Andy Gosler

University of Oxford

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 John Fanshawe

BirdLife International

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 Allison Thompson

University of Pittsburgh

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