Dr. Finney reiterates that all knowledge counts


Augsburg welcomed guest speaker Dr. Carolyn Finney at a Batalden Convocation on Friday, Feb. 10, held in the chapel. Dr. Finney is a writer, performer, and cultural geographer. As a professor of geography at the University of Kentucky, she is deeply interested in issues related to identity, difference, creativity, and resilience. In particular, the convocation explored how issues of difference impact participation in decision-making processes designed to address environmental issues. She especially attempted to change our theoretical and methodological visions that shape knowledge production and determine whose knowledge should count.

Dr. Carolyn Finney Augsburg College/The Echo

Dr. Finney pursued an acting career for 11 years but a backpacking trip around the world and living in Nepal changed the course of her life. Motivated by these experiences, she returned to school after a 15-year absence to complete her undergraduate and graduate degrees.

The aim of her work and the convocation was to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets on their representation of difference and increase awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action.

Making a guest appearance is nothing new for Dr. Finney. She has appeared on the Tavis Smiley show, MSNBC, NPR and has been interviewed for numerous newspapers and magazines. Along with public speaking, writing and consulting, she serves on the U.S. National Parks Advisory Board that is working to assist the National Park Service in engaging in relations of reciprocity with diverse communities.

As a national spokesperson, she is part of The Next 100 Coalition—a first-of-its-kind coalition of civil rights, environmental justice, conservation and community leaders from around the country who have put together a vision statement and policy document on diversity and public lands during the former Obama Administration. Her first book “Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors” was released in 2014.

This article first appeared in the Friday, February 17, 2017, Edition of The Echo.