Bill Vitek: A Farmer and a Philosopher Walk into a Field...

Bill Vitek, former Williams visiting professor and current professor at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY, gave a Log Lunch talk on Friday about the intersections of philosophy and the earth. He introduced a concept called the “New Perennials” which sounds similar to the word “millennial.” This is rather intentional, as Professor Vitek explicated the novel thought processes required of this novel state of the earth–i.e., climate change and a host of other sociopolitical issues.

(from left) Drew Jones, Bill Vitek, and Sarah Gardner. Pictured with 12-inch poster of a root.

He spoke about several useful and catchy paradigms for understanding historical changes the natural world, including the “5 E’s of surplus food production: extraction, eviction, enslavement, extermination, and empire.”

He asks: what would a perennial education system look like? Aren’t there analogies to be made between the farm and the classroom? Rows of crops, rows of students. Weeding is a little bit like grading, no? Harvest and production = graduation…

Professor Vitek encouraged anyone with an interest in environmental philosophy, or New Perennials, to contact him at or [email protected]

—Jane Tekin, ’19