IHOPE–Maya: Tropical Sustainability from an Ancient Context

Short Seminar

January 15–17, 2009

IHOPE–Maya: Tropical Sustainability from an Ancient ContextIHOPE–Maya: Tropical Sustainability from an Ancient ContextIHOPE–Maya: Tropical Sustainability from an Ancient Context

A project titled “Integrated History and Future of People on Earth” (IHOPE), sponsored by UNESCO and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, is assembling and sharing data concerning the socioenvironmental dynamics of past societies. According to Vernon Scarborough, chair of this short seminar, one goal of IHOPE is “to explain and offer correctives for the present and future of humanity on a severely stressed planet, conditions in part induced by overexploitation by societies themselves.” Researchers see archaeology as a fundamental discipline for addressing IHOPE’s mission.

IHOPE officials asked Scarborough to assemble a group of Mayanists to explore the way their data and knowledge could help address “what humans have done to the globe’s tropical environments,” he said. “The import of the tropics for the immediacy of the planet is that it occupies perhaps 6 percent of the earth’s surface but holds more than half its biodiversity. Although the Maya lowlands represent a small percentage of the planet’s semitropical forest, it is a well-studied zone archaeologically.” The group’s work encompassed more than just platitudes about how “the past informs the future,” said Scarborough. “Mayanists have the data and the tools to affect our world stage, not just with our anthropological interest in a curiously sophisticated Mesoamerican civilization but by way of an assessment of what might work if we are to be wise stewards of this planet.”

This seminar was generously supported by the Dobkin Family Foundation.

Vernon L. Scarborough, Chair Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Cincinnati
Arlen F. Chase Pegasus Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Central Florida
Scott L. Fedick Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Riverside
Vilma Fialko Senior Archaeologist, Instituto de Antropologia e Historia, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Joel D. Gunn Professor, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
David Lentz Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati
Lisa J. Lucero Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Champaign
Keith M. Prufer Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico
Jeremy A. Sabloff Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
Fred Valdez Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin
Sander E. Van Der Leeuw Director and Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

Sponsored by Dobkin Family Foundation

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