Environmental anthropologist and journalist Tara Waters Lumpkin spoke with SMU Environmental Comm. students in Taos this week, encouraging them to become eco-reporters for her multimedia e-zine, Voices for Biodiversity (V4B).
Dr. Lumpkin is founder and president of this global online community (formerly Izilwane), where conservation activists worldwide raise their voices, share insights and tell stories , covering a wide range of biodiversity issues.
Lumpkin, whose work takes her all over the world, makes her home in Arroyo Seco, just outside of Taos. She visited Comm. Studies students at the SMU-in-Taos campus to discuss the importance of perception in bringing about awareness. Strategic communications is vital in “helping shift perceptions so humans understand their impact on the environment,” she said before sharing a documentary entitled “Call of Life.”
Her extensive background involves working with environmental scientists, shamans, farmers, business owners, wildlife and tourism guides, etc., and with diverse ethnic groups — Afrikaners, South Africans, San Bushmen, Zulu, Xhosa, and Shangaan. Her tireless pursuit to learn the root causes of the earth’s diminishing biodiversity, lead her to the conclusion that if humans were ever going to embrace the importance of saving other species, we must perceive ourselves as human animals. “As a human animal, we would realize that we needed other species and to be embedded in the web of life to survive,” she writes.
Lumpkin, a former international development consultant for UNICEF, the United States Agency for International Development, and other NGOs, has been an environmental journalist and is an award-winning poetry, fiction, and nonfiction writer. In addition to serving as executive director, editor-in-chief, and founder of V4B, Lumpkin is president of the nonprofit Perception International.