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Religious Studies Class of 2017
Lisa plans to obtain experience in a nonprofit organization and to develop projects and stories as a writer, photographer, performance artist and documentary filmmaker in preparation for a career in social, environmental and artistic activism and independent documentary filmmaking.
What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
A class with Craig Campbell, a visiting professor from the University of Texas who was here as part of the Society for the Humanities fellows program, and four of my peers. When he was not teaching our class, called Lessons in the Anthropocene, Professor Campbell was writing about his ethnographic field work in Siberia following the Evenki people, and their practice of reindeer hunting and herding in the contemporary environments of socialist colonialism and climate change. As part of his research, he set up a white canvas tent as used by the Evenki and a wood burning stove in the backyard of Fallen Tree, and on multiple occasions my peers and I met in his tent for class. It was in these intimate settings that Professor Campbell pushed us all to approach ethnography and history through the sensuousness of the living world — and to bring this reality to bear upon scholarly analysis and research. The idea of "knowing by doing" greatly influenced and inspired my approach to my honors thesis.
What accomplishments/activities are you most proud of while at Cornell?
In the summer of 2015, I joined the efforts of Professor Jane Marie Law in starting a sustainability center called Fallen Tree Center for a Resilient Future, located near Sapsucker Woods. Professor Law is a powerful female mentor who gets things done — over the course of 18 months the derelict house and property was transformed into a beautiful house with a sustainability library, rooms for interns and a meditation room. Outside we have established vegetable and pollinator gardens, as well as chicken coops and bee hives. Since the project's inception, I have been living as an intern at Fallen Tree, helping take care of the chickens and goats as well as run meditation retreats for fellow peers. Please feel free to reach out to me or Professor Law if you are interested in getting involved with this project!
Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?
I am so grateful to have known Professor Don Fredericksen for the last three years of his life. He kindled an interest in the intersection of religion and cinema, and such has become a subject that I spend much of my time thinking about. He initiated this interest during my first class with him, called The Moving Image and the Environment. During those evening classes, held in a windowless room of the Schwartz Center for the Perforrming Arts, Professor Fredericksen would engage my peers and I in deeply meaningful conversations about the the relationship between cinema and the environment — not necessarily where the environment is the subject of a film, but where film itself carries the spirit or experience of the environment. It was in this semester where I began to observe that some films, especially those which evoke the personal narratives of Professor Fredericksen and my peers, had the potential to be transformative. More often than not, I left with a renewed sense of the depth of our own reality as well as the connection I share with others, both human and nonhuman.