Podcast from the Prairie - Episode 7: “The Restless and Relentless Mind of Wes Jackson”
In this final episode of the first season of “Podcast from the Prairie,” Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen reverse roles. Jackson asks the questions about Jensen’s new book, The Restless and Relentless Mind of Wes Jackson: Searching for Sustainability, which summarizes key ideas from Jackson’s work over the past half-century. What led Jensen to write the book? Why did Jensen think Jackson’s ideas—which can be found not only in five books but in countless articles and lectures—needed to be presented in a short volume? Does Jackson think that Jensen got it right? How does Jackson’s work relate to Jensen’s previous work on radical feminism and left politics?
Podcast from the Prairie - Episode 6: “Hogs Are Up: Stories of the Land, with Digressions”
In this penultimate episode of the first season of “Podcast from the Prairie,” Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen discuss Jackson’s new book, Hogs Are Up: Stories of the Land, with Digressions. The stories in the book move from Jackson’s childhood on a Kansas farm, through his academic career, to the founding and growth of The Land Institute. Jackson’s stories not only entertain but challenge us to think critically about society and ecology. Jackson reflects on his work in the movements to create a sustainable agriculture and deepen ecological education through reflection that are sometimes funny, always engaging.
Podcast from the Prairie - Episode 5: “The Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man”
In this episode of “Podcast from the Prairie,” Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen discuss the creativity of both humans and the larger living world. In addition to finding expression in art, human creativity also is essential in the scientific enterprise and is part of everyday life. The ecosphere is creative as well, making diversity out of the raw elements of the universe. A theologian even suggested that “serendipitous creativity” was an appropriate metaphor for God. Jackson, who brought many of these ideas together in his “art without ego” exhibition last year, will help make sense of the role of creativity in life and in our lives.
Podcast from the Prairie - Episode 4: "Methodism to My Madness"
In this episode of “Podcast from the Prairie,” Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen will discuss the role of religion, both in Jackson’s life and in our human future. The title of this episode references something Jackson has said for years, “There’s Methodism in my madness,” which honors the church of his family growing up even though he’s no longer a believer. How does Jackson reconcile his life as a scientist with that tradition? How important is faith to the hope for a sustainable human presence on the planet?
Podcast from the Prairie - Episode 3: "Mad About Science"
In the first two episodes of “Podcast from the Prairie,” Wes Jackson discussed some of the key ideas he developed in his half-century career as an educator and activist in the movement for ecological sustainability, and reflected on the role of his rural upbringing on his career. In Episode 3, titled “Mad about Science,” Wes talks about how formal science differs from, and is similar to, the folk science he learned on the farm growing up. Wes earned degrees in biology, botany, and genetics before resigning as an environmental studies professor to co-found The Land Institute in 1976. Recognizing that modern science has changed society for the better and the worse, Wes ponders how modern science is both necessary for, and can pose threats to, our struggle to create a sustainable human presence on the planet.
Podcast from the Prairie - Episode 2: "Respecting Your Tools"
In the inaugural episode of Podcast from the Prairie, Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen explored some of the key influences on Jackson’s distinctive philosophy, on how he came to embrace an ecological perspective and a “creaturely worldview.” In Episode 2, “Respecting Your Tools,” the focus is on the jobs Jackson has had in his life and what lessons he learned along the way. The story starts with work on farms and ranches while growing up, before Jackson became a welder to pay for college. After graduating, Jackson taught at a high school and then a college and university. In 1976, Jackson gave up the security of a tenured faculty position at a California university to return to Kansas and take a gamble on starting an alternative school, The Land Institute, that led to internationally recognized research on sustainable agriculture. In this episode, Jackson reflects on the importance of honoring the people and tools one works with, on the sweat and joy that comes in committing fully to a task, and the kind of work necessary if there is to be a sustainable future.
Podcast from the Prairie - Episode 1: "Intellectual Grounding"
Welcome to “Podcast from the Prairie.” Wes Jackson, one of the founders of the sustainable agriculture movement, tells stories that take us from lessons learned growing up on a Kansas farm to the front lines of crucial debates about ecological crises and social struggles. Sparked by journalist Robert Jensen’s questions, Jackson reflects on science and history, technology and philosophy, ethics and politics, and how we chart a path forward.