Signature Seminar Preview Talk to Focus on Extractions


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How do we balance our needs and desires for oil, gas, timber and other resources with the environmental and societal impacts of extractions? How do race, class and gender factors determine who benefits or is harmed by extractive practices? And who owns the land, anyway?

Associate Professor Toni Jensen will answer these questions and delve into their local, regional and national significance in her preview public lecture, “Extractions,” which will be offered online via Zoom at 5:15 p.m. on Monday, March 28.

Jensen’s talk will feature an overview of his fall 2022 Honors College signature seminar, Extractions. Please complete this online interest form to gain access to the conference.


Too often, discussions, like the ones Jensen hopes to lead, focus the voices of people outside the affected communities.

“I view this from a marginalized perspective,” said Jensen, who is Métis and has spent time at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in Standing Rock. “Who is affected when the frackers or the oil and gas or lumber industries decide to come onto reservation lands? Or come to a small town? Who is affected by this and who has a say? Who can say no? »

Designed to introduce students to the human costs of extractive industries, the course will examine the global demand for raw materials, energy and human capital in the context of the climate crisis. Students in the class will investigate the practice and concepts of extraction through political, environmental, and socio-economic approaches.


In addition to looking at what happens when extractive industries come to a place, Jensen highlighted the importance of considering who is harmed after extractive industries leave.

“We will dive deep into the lives of people affected by oil and gas extraction, mining, forestry, commercial agriculture and food production,” she said.

Students in the class will work on a layered knowledge of these industries and the people and places most impacted by them, including “workers and landowners, corporate executives and pipeline protesters, politicians and climatologists.

Although much of the course examines the science and technology and the literal process of hydraulic fracturing, Jensen said much of the course considers the stories of those involved.

“As the processes develop, what stories are told? What do we say in the newspapers and what are we beginning to write in literature? And later, what do cinema and television have to say?

Jensen said she’s mostly interested in community stories, which too often involve crime.

“For example, when fracking happened in small towns in North Dakota, women had to ask male colleagues to walk them to their cars at night due to incidents of sexual assault” , she said. “All kinds of terrible things were happening. This is the hidden cost of it all – what is literally happening. You get a new primary school, you get new buildings, you get shiny new infrastructure. But what happens to women who work in hotels? What happens to women who are night watchmen in grocery stores? »

Jensen will also ask students to think about what happens to hotels in these cities “after the boom has collapsed.”

“When we think about our oil and gas needs, it’s not something we talk about very often in this country,” she said.


Students will also “rigorously interrogate” early concepts of land ownership, including the infamous phrase “manifest destiny,” which led to a culture of expansion across the North American continent.

“It seems so grand, so glorious and so prosperous. And yet, there are already people living on the land,” Jensen said. “More broadly, this is going to be a survey of the place, and who can call it theirs. Whenever you’re dealing with extractions and extractive industries, that’s really what’s at stake.

Despite the fact that the course will be an academic exploration, Jensen said she doesn’t try to separate the emotional aspects.

“Any time you deal with the land of people and their families and things that go back through history and generations, there will be emotional connections,” she said. “That’s what creates an interesting learning environment, without falsely separating our feelings from socio-economic issues. When you make that separation, it becomes purely academic talk about others. I think the harder it is to separate, the better for all of us, because then we’re going to live our lives more mindfully.


Jensen is the author of Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Landan essay on gun violence, land and the lives of Indigenous peoples (Ballantine 2020) and a collection of short stories, From the top. She is the recipient of a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Literature in Nonfiction Fellowship and a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation Fellowship.

Jensen’s essays have been published in journals such as Orion, Catapult and Ecotone. She is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Native Studies at the University of Alberta and also teaches in the low residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Jensen earned his Ph.D. from Texas Tech University and has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, Sowell Family Foundation, Norcroft Foundation, UCross, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Faulkner Fund. She is Metis.


Extractions is one of three Honors College signature seminars scheduled for fall 2022. Other topics to explore include Climate Change: A Human Story, taught by Ben Vining, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, and Wrongful Convictions , taught by Tiffany Murphy, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of the Criminal Practice Clinic at the U of A School of Law.

Deans of each college can nominate faculty to participate in this program, and those selected to teach will become Honors College Dean’s Scholars.

Honors students must apply to participate, and those selected will be designated Dean’s Signature Scholars. The course application is posted online on the Signature Seminars webpage. The deadline to apply is Thursday, March 31.

About the Specialized College: The University of Arkansas Honors College was established in 2002 and brings together high-achieving undergraduates and the university’s top faculty to share transformative learning experiences. Each year, the Honors College awards up to 90 freshman scholarships that provide $72,000 over four years and more than $1 million in undergraduate research and study abroad scholarships. The Honors College is nationally recognized for the high caliber of students it admits and graduates. Honors students benefit from small, in-depth courses and programs are offered in all disciplines, tailored to students’ academic interests, with cross-disciplinary collaborations encouraged.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A offers an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to the Arkansas economy through teaching new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and employment development, discovery through research and creative activity while providing training in professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation ranks the U of A among the top 3% of American colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. US News and World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. Learn how the U of A is working to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.


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