ecological psychosocial work hits NW China

I’ve returned from my successful visit with students and professors at Lanzhou University, in the Gansu Province in NW China. I was a guest of Dr. Li of the internationally acclaimed Laboratory of Arid Agroecology, which has also branched out into the field of Social Ecology. Graduate students and professors gathered for two lectures and a workshop from psychology, social work, environmental sciences, sociology and social ecology. Fullbright and NSF Fellow and US graduate student and rising star in environmental sociology, KuoRay Mao, made all the arrangements and provided stunning, nuanced, passionate translation.

I was moved and inspired by my interactions with the people studying and working at Lanzhou University. The region provides a “living laboratory” for resolving some of the most complex socio-ecological threats and degradation facing our planet. An arid landscape, with complex socio-cultural and economic variables to negotiate. I have become utterly fascinated with this region and how a psychosocial approach can be helpful.

The reception from the attendees was overwhelmingly positive. Some comments include,

“Even though I am not studying environmental issues “at the moment, Dr. Renee Lertzman’s talks really benefited me tremendously. Not only she introduced cutting edging research methods, she also brought us a new perspective in analyzing the interaction between individual and structure.”

“The atmosphere in the conference room was the best I had ever been in since I arrived LZU 15 yrs ago. In itself, this conference was a very beautiful environment.”

“Dr. Lertzman’s presentations really opened up a new frontier for me on environmental research. Too often, we have neglected the micro aspect of social and ecological transformations. I am very glad that I came today to listen to her lecture.”

There is no doubt the application and translation of psychosocial work in China is complex; however the emphasis on experience, emotion, affect and internal/external conflicts seemed to be readily landing. I will be updating over the coming days more detailed reflections and take-away’s from this extraordinary experience. I am so grateful.

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