The idea of land is rich in connotations and significance. When we speak of land, we may have in mind, for example, political questions of immigration or of national identity. We may think of the refugee or the exile. Or we may be thinking of ecological issues such as those surrounding modern farming practices, the mining and extraction of fossil fuels and other valuable resources, or the conservation of our natural spaces and our wildlife. Our concerns may be social and economic, global and geological, or spiritual and theological. But there is no question that land, in all of these senses and many more besides, is a vitally important part of our lives here on earth. Nor is there any question that some of our most profound challenges and pressing conflicts are centered on the notion of land.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, the Gerber Institute will offer programming that explores some of the many issues surrounding the concept of land in hopes of promoting dialogue and reflection on the meaning and significance of land for human life.

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California to the New York island,
From the Redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters,
This land was made for you and me.

–Woody Guthrie


* Photo by Espresso Addict via Wikimedia Commons (