Planetary Health

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has revealed new vulnerabilities in global systems, along with new measures of political response. Similarly, climatic changes and growing anxieties over resources such as clean water and air expose fresh terrains for potential disaster and public anxiety. We plan periodic convenings to explore such contemporary problems through critical engagement with "planetary health," a growing field of expertise and activism at the intersection of health and environmental concerns. Planetary health positions human well-being in relation to that of other species and interconnected environments, all framed by a finite, common planetary ground. Following but also departing from earlier formations of international and global health, its proponents concern themselves not only with people, nation states and populations, but also microbial life, animal vectors and zoonotic diseases. As a consequence, questions of milieu and interconnection come to the fore, along with vital infrastructures and equipment.

The project seeks to foster cross-cutting conversations made possible – indeed, necessary – by the historical moment, combining a range of disciplinary frames and methodologies with novel questions about health from a planetary perspective. What forms of ethics and politics emerge around such concerns and efforts to foster care? What scales of space and time, what sense of limits and possibilities do they evoke? Participants include policy makers, historians, social scientists, public health experts, and environmental scientists.