Global Warming and Radical Hope

Nov 23, 2020

The latest issue of PUBLIC: A Journal of Imagining America, “Global Warming and Radical Hope,” is co-edited by Guest Editor Jack Tchen and journal co-founders, editors, and designers Kathleen Brandt and Brian Lonsway

It marks the final issue of PUBLIC to be edited and designed by Kathleen and Brian, who, with former Editor Jan Cohen-Cruz, founded the journal in 2013.  Kathleen and Brian want to thank the community of contributors who have been part of the journal during their tenure. While this issue marks their last edited issue of PUBLIC, they will be continuing their work on creative platforms for knowledge sharing with groups like the Public Knowledge Project and others.

The issue “Global Warming and Radical Hope” experiments with reimagining what an online journal can be—one that advances thinking and reimagining together as a network, collaborating with a generous criticality and a commitment to being the change we want to—and must—make.  With a commitment to creative nonfiction, public history, public science, public scholarship, public art, and public design, this issue of PUBLIC poses this outsized question: can we find an expressive design and language that approximates the scale and complexity of our living planet in order to convey the scale, the immensity, of accumulated time in all places; the nuance and precious diversity of all places, indeed, the soil itself or a drop of water; the infinity of both our exterior and inner lives?

It offers a unique online experience that requires visitors to the journal to immerse themselves in a sprawling field—a “hyperobject” to borrow the term from Timothy Morton—to discover the issue’s contents as well as editors’ and designers’ commentary.  Morton invented the term to describe something (like “global warming” or “radical hope”) that is “so vastly distributed in time and space, relative to the observer, that we might not think it’s even an object at all.”  Navigating our radically-hopeful ‘hyperobject,’ the viewer will be able to read, view, and/or listen to the issue’s contributions as inter-connected fragments of knowledge distributed across this time and space—insights into the challenges we face in the context of global warming—and weave together their own personal narratives that tie them together.

The “Global Warming and Radical Hope” issue is framed by five passages, or excerpts from individuals or bodies of work that together inspired the editors, and in turn were given to our invited contributors to inspire and inform their work.  The issue includes passages by Wayne Yang (as la paperson), Timothy Morton, Robin Wall Kimmerer, The 1975 with Greta Thunberg, and Extinction Rebellion.  

Our contributors to the issue are Peder Anker, Carol Bebelle, Adam Bush, Valentine Cadieux, Nicholas Gervasi, Mitchell Joachim, Naomi Klein, Winona LaDuke, Nick Sousanis, and the many participants of a public dialog at the 2019 Imagining America National Gathering.

The ‘hyperobject’ interface is designed as well to accommodate future expansion—notably at first from the recent interconnected events of Imagining America’s 2020 Collective Creative Engagement, and Rutgers University’s Hacking the University | Reckoning with Racial Equity, Climate Justice, and Global Warming, co-organized by Jack Tchen—but to other future events as well.  These and other events can be simply plugged-in to expand the interface, creating new threads of knowledge production.  And in an effort to make truly public our efforts, the software infrastructure for the interactive interface will be available online for download and customization at a future date.

PUBLIC is published by Syracuse Unbound, an imprint of Syracuse University Press and Syracuse University Libraries.