Who We Are

Hugh Bartling is an Associate Professor in DePaul’s Public Policy Studies program.  His research interests are focused on urban environmental policy and climate change with a particular concentration on North American suburbia and the politics of urban planning.  He is the co-editor of “Suburban Sprawl: culture, theory, politics” and has published in a variety of journals including Urban Affairs Review, Planning Perspectives, Social Science Quarterly, and Space and Culture.  He can be found on the web at hughbartling.com and hugh.in.

Hugh Bartling







Rick Elmore is Lecturer in Philosophy at Appalachian State University.  He completed his PhD in philosophy at DePaul University.  His dissertation, entitled “Critical Ecologies: Violence and Life in the Work of Jacques Derrida and Theodor Adorno”, explored the way in which a concern for the violence involved in the determination of “life” grounds the critical projects of both these thinkers.  His current research includes how “object-oriented ontology” can help us better understand the environmental crisis.



Jim Fairhall is Associate Professor of English at DePaul University.  He has published award-winning works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and literary criticism.  His scholarly interests are focused on ecocriticism as it applies to the writing of James Joyce.



Kim Frye is an instructor in the Environmental Science & Studies Department at DePaul University. She is an enthusiast for urban green space in all its forms. She currently researches urban soils and street trees, using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for data-rich maps. She is also very interested in the relationship between science theory and practice. Kim dug her first garden 20 years ago and currently maintains 4 gardens throughout Chicago; including a rooftop garden where she has most recently participated in growing corn and switchgrass for ethanol production and the construction of cold frames. She is a beginning banjo student, novice welder, and intermediate juggler.






Liam Heneghan, a Dubliner, is an ecosystem ecologist working at DePaul University in Chicago where he is a Professor and Chair of Environmental Science & Studies and co-director of DePaul University’s Institute for Nature and Culture. His research has included studies on the impact of acid rain on soil foodwebs in Europe, and on inter-biome comparisons of decomposition and nutrient dynamics in forested ecosystems in North American and in the tropics. Over the past decade Heneghan and his students have been working on restoration issues in Midwestern ecosystems. Heneghan is co-chair of the Chicago Wilderness Science Team. He is also a graduate student in DePaul University’s philosophy program and an occasional poet.








Randall Honold is an assistant dean and instructor of nvironmental studies and philosophy, and a founding member of the Institute for Nature and Culture, at DePaul University. He often takes college students to India on environment-themed study-abroad programs. Away from work, when not spending time with his family or bicycling, he is slowly compiling a portfolio of still photographs that confuse boundaries, scales, and dimensions.







Scott Kelley is Assistant Vice-President for Vincentian Scholarship in the Office of Mission and Values and Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies Department at DePaul University. As a research fellow for the Institute of Business and Professional Ethics, he co-authored a book titled Alleviating Poverty through Profitable Partnerships: Globalization, Markets, and Economic Well-Being. His areas of research and publication include for-profit contributions to the alleviation of global poverty, sustainability in Catholic higher education, Catholic social thought, and Vincentian heritage.







Patricia Monaghan we remember as professor of interdisciplinary studies at the School for New Learning, DePaul University; a Founding Fellow of the Black Earth Institute, a progressive think-tank for artists; but most of all a generous friend and colleague.  She was the author of more than 20 books on spirituality and mythology, as well as four books of poetry.  Pat lost her battle with cancer in 2012.







Christine Skolnik is an adjunct professor in DePaul’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse and a faculty advisor to the Institute for Nature & Culture.  She holds a PhD in English (Rhetoric) from Penn State and earned an MA in Urban Sustainability.  She teaches courses in professional writing, rhetoric, and environmental consciousness.  Her research interests include the environment, rhetorical theory, psychology, and neuroscience.  (Rhetoric and the Plastic Brain is her original blog).  She is an avid downhill skier and currently renovating a condo on the outskirts of Vail with her husband Keith.







Anthony Paul Smith is Assistant Professor of Religion at LaSalle University.  He is the author of A Non-Philosophical Theory of Nature: Ecologies of Thought,  many translations of the work of Francois Laruelle, and numerous articles. His blogging can be found at An und fur sich.


Jeff Tangel is a long time environmental/social activist, chronic malcontent and former securities trader on Chicago’s trading floors. With an undergraduate degree in philosophy, he earned his Masters in Liberal Studies from DePaul in 2012, and is currently an Adjunct Professor at Saint Xavier University. His research interests focus on the intersections of philosophy of the environment, ethics, human nature, economics, and social and environmental justice. Inspired by Occupy (still), he is sure a world exists beyond neoliberalism, and for it all to work out, eventually. Hanging around INC since 2011 has nourished his natural optimism, which, after all, is what keeps a malcontent alive. His website/blog is tecumsehproject.org

Pics by Randy 009






Lauren Umek is a PhD student in Plant Biology and Conservation with Northwestern University and The Chicago Botanic Garden where she studies the impacts of plant invasion and restoration on soils and plant communities. She is currently investigating the use of soil manipulations in restoring invaded ecosystems and manages the Chicago Wilderness Land Management Research Program.  Lauren is a vegetarian, half marathoner, scooter rider, amateur gardener, and dedicated city-dweller.








Barbara Willard holds a joint faculty appointment in the Department of Environmental Science and Studies and the College of Communication at DePaul University.  She is a founding member of the Institute for Nature and Culture and is currently on its Executive Council.  Her research focuses on ways to foster sustainable practices beyond the environmental “choir.”  Most recently her research specializes in community food systems, urban agriculture, and promoting locally grown, fresh produce in food deserts.  She is a vegan, an avid animal lover, loves organic gardening and farming in challenging places like vacant city lots and parkways, and loves the Appalachian Mountains.  She believes that the best place to find the nexus of nature and culture and to live sustainably is in large cities like Chicago, where she resides.


One response to “Who We Are

  1. Dear Colleagues,
    I’m thrilled to see the establisement The Institute for Nature and Culture at DePaul University!. I am of sending along an exhibition announcement of my 5 year project Future Perfect: Photographs•Sound•Video•Sculpture now on view at The Co-Prosperity Sphere which is only up for one more week through Nov 12th.
    I would love to engage in a fuller discussion of this work with The Institute for Nature and Culture.
    Kind regards,
    Judy Natal
    Associate Professor of Photography, Columbia College
    Co-Founder of Artist in Resident program at Biosphere 2, Oracle, AZ.

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