The Species in Peril project at the University of New Mexico (UNM) is a public service initiative. The project was founded in April 2020 to foster conversations, creative production, public scholarship, and grassroots initiatives to bring attention to the intensifying crisis of biological annihilation, which includes human-caused species extinctions, mass die-offs and massacres.
We launched the project with the Species in Peril e-letter on April 27, 2020. But why did we start this initiative in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic just as cities, states and nations were instituting lockdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19? We did this in part because the root causes of the pandemic, scientists inform us, are situated in the biodiversity crisis, specifically the rapid loss of wildlife habitats and trade of wildlife. We addressed this connection in the inaugural e-letter. About five weeks later, shortly after Cyclone Amphan caused widespread ecological and social devastation in the Sundarbans and coastal Bangladesh and India, we published the second Species in Peril e-letter on UN World Environment Day, June 5, 2020. In that e-letter, we highlighted the connection among three crises: biological annihilation, climate breakdown, and the coronavirus pandemic. The Species in Peril e-letter will continue to serve as the primary public communication of the project—to share articles and news about our programming and creative and scholarly production.
The other two key activities of the project include hosting and/or supporting symposiums and exhibitions that address biodiversity crisis and conservation.
This UNM- Biodiversity Webinar Series — Fall 2020 symposium is FREE and open to the public, but registration is required. The series will include four webinars, offered monthly starting on September 14, 2020. Please visit the OVERVIEW page for a description of this national public service event; the PROGRAM page for the schedule of events and the link to register for each webinar; and the SPEAKERS page for biographies of the panelists and moderators.
While scientists from around the world are continuing important work on understanding biological annihilation through the lens of science—the Species in Peril project at UNM will focus on cultural responses to the crisis to complement the scientific efforts and also build bridges with scientific initiatives—to assist and help shape public policy on mitigating the biodiversity crisis.
The cultural responses will include creative production with art and stories; public scholarship informed by recent developments in multispecies justice, environmental humanities, political ecology, and Indigenous and other ethnic studies; and grassroots mobilization to engage the public.
Expansive in its geopolitical scope, our efforts will be culturally inclusive, place-based and community-engaged with the explicit aim of helping nonhuman relatives with whom we share this Earth survive and thrive, rather than steadily marching toward extinction en masse.
We encourage you to explore the varied resources that you will find on this website (art, articles, reports, videos), and consider using it in teaching, scholarship, creative production, and community organizing to address biological annihilation that maybe happening in your own region.
Banner Image: Arctic Refuge—Defend the Sacred Alaska rally, Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo by Pamela A. Miller, March 7, 2018.
Image 1: Zeke Peña, All Against the Wall, 2018, Digital illustration, created for Southwest Environmental Center to call attention to the harm that the border wall causes wildlife and our communities.
Image 2: Anil Mistry is distributing cyclone relief materials to residents of Kalidaspur Village, Sundarbans. Courtesy of Anil Mistry / Bali Nature & Wildlife Conservation Society, May 29, 2020.