Green Academy 2

Green Academy Seminar Series – Episode 2

How to Build a Beast: Changing the World with Wonder and Joy
Date: 27 June 2024, Thursday, at 18:00 CET.
Lecturer: Isaac Yuen

American conservationist Aldo Leopold once wrote that “one of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” Creatives working on topics of sustainability and ecological literacy constantly grapple with the emotional toil that stems from dealing with accelerating climate change, biodiversity loss, and other complex environmental issues. Lurking behind the struggle to affect lasting change are the constant existential questions: How can we truly create in the midst of constant grief and despair? What genuine impact can our work have? What kind of future are we striving towards?

In Episode 2 of The Big Green online seminar series, Isaac Yuen joins us in conversation to explore the role of wonder not only as a source of artistic inspiration and personal motivation, but as a strategy of resistance for creative expression in a world of social and ecological wounds. We will speak on the “wonder writing” philosophy at the heart of Yuen’s latest essay collection, Utter, Earth: Advice on Living in a More-than-Human World, the necessity of finding the extraordinary within the mundane, the importance for eco-narratives to embrace a diverse range of emotional tonalities, and the roles that thought experiments and utopian dreaming play in articulating more radical and subversive modes of living more sustainably on this planet humans and non-humans call home.

A first-generation Hong Kong Canadian writer, Isaac Yuen holds degrees in environmental science, engineering, education, and communication. He is the co-author of Atlas der ungewöhnlichen Klänge: Eine Reise zu den akustischen Wundern unserer Erde (Atlas of Unusual Sounds: A Journey to the Acustic Wonders of Earth) with Michaela Vieser, published in German with Knesebeck Verlag. His latest nature essay collection, Utter, Earth: Advice on Living in a More-Than-Human World, was published in 2024 through West Virginia University Press.

Winner of a Pushcart Prize, Isaac’s short fiction and creative nonfiction have been published and anthologized across Canada, the UK, and the US. He was a 2019 writer-in-residence at the Jan Michalski Foundation for Literature in Switzerland, a 2023-2024 Science Meets Fiction fellow at the Hanse-Wissenshaftskolleg (HWK) Institute in Advanced Study in Germany, and an upcoming artist-in-residence with the La Napoule Foundation in France. Isaac currently lives and works in Berlin.

(After registration, we’ll send you the Zoom link some days before the event)

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This episode of the Green Academy will be hosted by ecologist, philosopher, and writer Philipp P. Thapa.
Organised in collaboration with the Sustainable Europe Research Institute Germany (


About Green Academy

Pro Progressione’s Green Pillar emphasizes the integration of artistic practices with the more-than-human environment. We lead and collaborate on various projects, focusing on sustainability and connecting artists with critical environmental issues.

Although these events are directly linked to projects such as The Big Green, we aim to provide an open platform for the cultural and creative sectors, inviting our partners to join the Academy. Following our 2024 pilot phase, we plan to organize five more lectures next year. These events are open to registered participants and offer not only learning experiences but also the opportunity to form a community of professionals dedicated to environmentally conscious art.

The Big Green project behind Green Academy is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.