CFP: Natura Graduate Conference in Science & Epistemology, “Virtual Ecologies”

Virtual Ecologies
Natura’s 9th Annual Graduate Conference in Science and Epistemology
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey
March 6, 2020

Keynote Address:
Lisa Swanstrom (Associate Professor of English, University of Utah)

Call for Papers
Hosted by Natura, a Rutgers University Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Working Group focused on critical perspectives of Science and Epistemology, the 2020 Natura Graduate Conference seeks papers on the topic of virtual ecologies: dreamed, immaterial, digital, imagined, or potential networks of relationships and ruptures between humans, nonhumans, and their environments. 

Digital ecosystems, imagined worlds, abstractions of thought — the virtual pervades the contemporary moment but also possesses a long history, the shadow of the actual or real. The conference seeks to examine the entwined relationships and surprising fractures that develop in the realm of the virtual, broadly construed. How does the virtual interact with the material, the embodied, and the immediate? How does the oikos of ecology — the home, the household, the place to live — transform when it becomes virtual? How do virtualities of the past impinge upon the present, and the present cast a virtual shadow onto the past? Are our ways of knowing intrinsically tied to virtuality, or does knowledge find its home in the material or real? How do power structures, abstractions, forms, and concepts intersect with lived experience and material conditions of existence?

Potential topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Material and mediality
  • Games as lived experience
  • Environmental advocacy in a digital space
  • Virtual literary world
  • “Nature” as problem space
  • Algorithmic embodiment
  • Histories of virtuality and virtuality in history
  • Distributed agency
  • Mapping, surveillance, and practices of seeing
  • Immaterial spatiotemporal architecture and design
  • Impossible soundscapes
  • Digital pollution
  • Virtual repercussions of real-world behavior and real-world consequences to virtual speech

The conference will take place on Friday, March 6th, 2020. Natura invites 250-word abstracts for 20-minute talks on any topic examining the role of virtual ecologies in the sciences and humanities. This event is open to graduate students and scholars working in any area of the arts, humanities, or sciences. Interested faculty or post-doctoral researchers are welcome to contact us about potential roles as panel moderators or discussants. Send proposals or requests for more information to; proposals should be sent by December 15. Please visit our website at

Natura: The Science and Epistemology Working Group is a graduate student working group within Rutgers University that serves as a forum to foster critical interdisciplinary conversations about the history, cultures, places, and theories of science, epistemology, and knowledge production. We are generously sponsored by the Rutgers British Studies Center, the School of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, and the Graduate Student Association.