25th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM)

June 2-7, 2019 at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh


The 2019 ISSRM will be held on the campus of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO), a mid-sized comprehensive institution known for its sustainability efforts and located in the heart of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The conference theme is “Sustainability and the Land Ethic in the Anthropocene: ‘A Thinking Community’ Explores Critical Issues in Leopold’s Backyard.” UWO is at the heart of the Upper Midwest, along a unique river and lake system, and in famed conservationist and scholar Aldo Leopold’s backyard–or at least within a few country miles.

UWO has two key partners on the conference. It is collaborating with Aldo Leopold Foundation, an international leader in advancing the understanding, stewardship and restoration of land health, and in cultivating leadership for conservation. “Nothing so important as an ethic is ever ‘written,’” Leopold explained. “It evolves ‘in the minds of a thinking community.’” It will be the 70th anniversary of the publication of A Sand County Almanac, so we will celebrate, workshop, discuss, visit places associated with, and challenge his ideas and legacy. We are also excited to be partnering with the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) of the Menominee Nation, original inhabitants of a large portion of Wisconsin, including Oshkosh. Among other things, SDI is organizing and facilitating a panel with the tentative title of, “Indigenous Perspectives of People and Place in the Great Lakes Region: Looking Beyond Leopold’s Backyard.”

It will be a conference emphasizing big ideas; fruitful interdisciplinarity; social interaction amongst students, academics, practitioners, and community members; engagement with the local area, and fun.


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ISSRM is a venue for presenting cutting-edge research and engaging in productive discussions focused on the sustainable management of natural resources. In 2019, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin will serve as a gathering place for a rich exchange of scientific, professional, and local knowledge that will connect global environmental conditions and concerns with individuals’ and communities’ understanding of their local landscapes. We hope scholars and practitioners from many disciplinary and professional backgrounds as well as people from all walks of life will join as participants in a conference program that will contribute to our growing understanding of society’s interactions with natural resources and the environment.

Since its inception in 1986, the ISSRM conference has always had a broad focus that encompasses a wide variety of international resource management issues, environmental justice, collaborative stakeholder processes, and the social impacts of natural resource management. Our flagship journal is Society and Natural Resources. Our professional association is IASNR.

Theme - Sustainability and the Land Ethic in the Anthropocene

The conference theme is “Sustainability and the Land Ethic in the Anthropocene.” We subtitle the theme as, “‘A Thinking Community’ Explores Critical Issues in Leopold’s Backyard”, including what a land ethic means in the anthropocene. We envision a focus on big ideas and innovative approaches to understanding and addressing the myriad issues for society and natural resources that have emerged from the new geological epoch we have created. As most ISSRM attendees will no doubt be aware, the anthropocene is marked by the decisive role humans now play in shaping the state, dynamics, and future of Earth and its complex ecological and social systems. Among other indicators, scientists argue that anthropogenic processes now account for more sediment transport than natural processes, such as erosion from rivers, and humans have measurably altered the composition of the atmosphere, oceans, and soils, as well as the cycles associated with carbon, nitrogen, and other elements.

The more than seven billion people currently residing on the planet breathe a chemically altered atmosphere of our own making, and are witness to the spread of oceanic dead zones that result from our practices. From a sociological standpoint, the adjective “anthropogenic,” referring to something produced by humans, is insufficient. It is not simply the presence of billions of Homo sapiens, which has altered the Earth’s systems; rather, it is the way people interact with the Earth’s systems—our social processes.

While he was trained in forestry and ecology, Aldo Leopold remains so influential because he—like many from Native American and Eastern philosophical traditions before and after him—understood the interconnections between social and natural processes; according to him, land is not merely soil, but a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals, including Homo sapiens. He pointed to the many dangers of change occurring in parts of the fountain, which cause imbalances in the system and consequences for its interdependent members. His direct work concluded with his untimely death more than six decades ago and while he would likely be disappointed, he would perhaps not be surprised to learn that all these years later, much of our species has still failed to understand these basic concepts nor altered their patterns accordingly. He noted, “We shall never achieve harmony with the land, anymore than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations the important thing is not to achieve but to strive” and to be “intelligent tinkerers” that attempt to understand and preserve every cog and wheel as we do. A modern legacy of his big ideas include the notion that a land ethic will emerge from a common belief that healing our earth is key to healing our relationships with each other, and healing our relationships with each other is key to healing our earth. Both must happen simultaneously, because community and conservation, collective understanding and collective action, go hand in hand.

ISSRM attendees can visit Wisconsin’s “sand counties”—the location of his most famous work that lie to the west of Oshkosh—and learn directly from Aldo Leopold Foundation, which works to preserve and enhance the legacy of Leopold’s land ethic. Attendees can do so in a setting that embodies not pristine wilderness nor overly idealistic visions of sustainable living, but a university and wider community engaged with the realities of the anthropocene and attempting to develop a collective ecological conscience in this regard as they exist in the transition between a heavily industrial, largely homogeneous, Human Exemptionalism Paradigm-oriented local society to an increasingly diverse one that is making progress towards using the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) as a guide for living, which the Menominee people continue to do after more than 10,000 years in Wisconsin. Our partners from Menominee’s Sustainable Development Institute will facilitate our exploration of indigenous perspectives and practices in several exciting ways.

ISSRM ’19 will be a conference that takes advantage of this rich context through keynote talks, panels, field trips, organized sessions, and other engaging and just plain fun activities.

Venue - University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO)

ISSRM ’19 will be held at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Since 1871, UWO has been providing residents of northeastern Wisconsin with high-quality, affordable education through 60 undergraduate majors, 30 master’s degree programs and one doctoral degree for our 14,500 students. A comprehensive university, it is one of 26 universities and colleges in the nationally-recognized UW System, and one of its 13 high quality four-year schools. It is the largest higher education institution in the Fox Valley, a metropolitan area stretching from Fond du Lac to Green Bay with a population of more than 800,000 people, and the clear leader in terms of advancing sustainability in the region.

Oshkosh itself is an interesting place within which to explore issues related to the conference theme. A mid-sized city in the Upper Midwest of the U.S., this city of 66,000 is experiencing an uneven process of restructuring from the heavily industrial economy (in 1866 there were 50 lumber mills along the Fox River in the former “Sawdust City”) and highly homogeneous demography of its recent past to a more diverse contemporary landscape.

Its history and bioregion is defined by the Fox River system, sitting as it does along both the banks of this north-flowing river and its mouth into Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin’s largest in-land lake, and one of the largest lakes contained completely within one state in the U.S.

New central city development has been geared towards embracing the Fox River as a recreational and scenic amenity, redeveloping brownfields on its many former industrial sites, revitalizing its rich brewing history, and green building, particularly on the UWO campus.

Oshkosh is also Wisconsin’s Event City. From concerts and holiday celebrations to races and sporting events, there’s always something happening in Oshkosh. In addition to a nearly endless list of seasonal events, Oshkosh offers year-round attractions, including the EAA AirVenture Museum, the Oshkosh Public Museum and the Paine Art Center and Gardens. Downtown Oshkosh is home to the scenic Riverwalk and unique shops, galleries, bars and restaurants.

Travel Information

By Air
Oshkosh has a regional airport (ATW – Appleton International Airport) 25 minutes from campus that offers both domestic and international flights. Delta offers six arrivals and departures each day, and United offers two flights in and one flight out daily. It is a roughly 55-minute flight to Chicago and 1 hour flight to Minneapolis. Prices are generally competitive. Major airports in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Minneapolis are also within an easy or very feasible drive. Shuttle vans for transport to and from ATW and Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee are planned to be arranged.

UWO is conveniently located within the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Stores, restaurants, and a great local brewery are within walking distance from campus, the latter and several others lying next to the Wiouwash State Trail, a 22-mile walking and biking trail that starts along the Fox River on campus, or the new city Riverwalk, which is contiguous with the Wiouwash and provides access to additional amenities in downtown Oshkosh.

The City of Oshkosh operates a well-functioning bus system (including four hybrid buses) with numerous stops on campus and throughout the city, which connections to neighboring cities as well. For more information regarding route times, bus stop locations, and pricing, refer to their website.

Nearby cities easily reached by car include Green Bay (45 minutes), Stevens Point (1hr), Madison and Milwaukee (1.5hrs), Chicago (3hrs) and other places in IL (University of Illinois, 5hrs), Minneapolis-St. Paul (4hrs), Michigan’s Upper (Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech, ~4hrs) and Lower Peninsula (University of Michigan and Michigan State,~6hrs), Indiana (Purdue University, 5 hrs) and Iowa (University of Iowa, 4.5 hrs, Iowa State, 6hrs).

UWO’s Gruenhagen Conference Center will provide more than 200 lodging rooms, with prices ranging from $30-45/night, and all with air-conditioning. These rooms are conveniently located within easy walking distance of conference meeting spaces and the university recreation center. In addition, the rooms are within walking distance or short bus ride to downtown Oshkosh, the aforementioned walking/bike trails, several local and chain restaurants, two breweries (and a third is a 30-min bike ride on the Wiowash), and Menominee Park, a great urban park along Lake Winnebago.

The conference hotel is Best Western Premier Waterfront, located one mile from campus (about a 15-minute walk) on the waterfront and on the walking/bike trail. It recently underwent a $10 million+ renovation and is now the top hotel in the area. Even so, rates will be reasonable.The hotel has blocked 150 rooms from the bulk of the conference at a rate of $96 per night. Amenities include free shuttle service from and to ATW, pool and spa, restaurant and lounge in house, fitness center, game room, complimentary High-Speed Wireless Internet, attached parking, downtown location, water views, refrigerator, and microwave and coffee maker in every room.

Abstract Submission and Presentation Guidelines

Abstracts will be due mid-January 2019. Full details on submission guidelines are coming soon.

Individuals will be limited to serving as lead presenter on only one oral paper presentation. This does not include co-authorship and individuals may present both an oral paper presentation and organize a session, present a poster, or serve on a panel.


The 2019 ISSRM will take place June 2 – June 7, 2019. Full details on registration deadlines and costs will be released soon.

Sustainability at UWO

UWO is the clear leader in sustainability education, research, and practice in this region, and highly regarded nationally as well. With a deep sense of responsibility and a vision mission to help produce resilient, prosperous communities, UWO is committed to progressively reducing its ecological footprint and fashioning a durable and better world through its academic mission. In fact, in 2015 UWO again earned the highest ranking of any college or university in Wisconsin and was ranked third in the U.S. overall on the prestigious Sierra Club “Cool Schools” list, which recognizes colleges and universities for their commitment to and practice of sustainability. Informal sustainability tours will be offered throughout the conference.

Below are some of the key features:

  • The creation of the Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformation (SIRT) in the summer of 2017;
  • A sustainability plan that was originally drafted nearly a decade ago and was updated in 2014;
  • Research on aquatic and other issues conducted by its Environmental Research and Innovation Center, which sits on the banks of the Fox River;
  • Three biodigesters, including a dry fermentation facility on campus that was the first of its type in the Americas, in partnership with BIOFerm™ Energy Systems and that company’s parent, Viessmann Group of Allendorf, German, which also sponsors an annual student seminar in sustainability that involves interning at the company’s headquarters there;
  • Green Buildings, including several new LEED-certified facilities with features including green roofs, solar panels, and native rain gardens;
  • A well-established and vibrant Environmental Studies program;
  • A recently added Environmental Engineering Technology degree program; and,
  • A reimagined general education program lauded by the American Association of Colleges and Universities in part due to its requirement that all incoming students tackle “signature questions” related to civic learning, intercultural knowledge and competence, and sustainability.


Preliminary program will be released spring 2019.

Field Trips

Tentative field trips include:

Horicon Marsh: Birding, hiking, and learning about this unique product of social and ecological processes at the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the U.S.

Menominee Nation: Tour of MTE sustainable forestry operations and sustainability-oriented tribal college, recreation along the Wild & Scenic Wolf River.

Aldo Leopold Center: Tour Leopold’s famous shack and Aldo Leopold Foundation headquarters and other examples of ecological restoration in this area.

Necedah Wildlife Refuge and Roche-a-Cri State Park: Nestled in central Wisconsin (a bit less than 2 hours west of Oshkosh) is a landscape that early homesteaders called the Great Wisconsin Swamp. On the way back, the trip will stop to visit and hike in Roche-a-Cri State Park, which among other things protects a 300-foot-highrock outcropping and Native American petroglyphs and pictographs, and for refreshments at a classic Wisconsin supper club.

Kayaking in Door County: Scenic Door County is about a 1.5 hour drive from Oshkosh. Much of it is a peninsula with Green Bay (the water body) on its Western shore and the in-land sea of Lake Michigan on its Eastern shore. Opportunities for kayaking and other fun abound.


Student Interest

Student Paper Competition Prizes will be awarded to the best undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD level papers that are presented at the ISSRM. More details and submission deadlines coming soon.

Student Forum– Offers professional development and networking for graduate students. More details and submission deadlines coming soon.

Student Mixer- Informal networking opportunity with food and beer. All free! More details and submission deadlines coming soon.

Student Quiz Bowl– Fun, competitive team event where students test their IASNR and environmental social science knowledge in front of a boisterous audience. Bar and snacks provided. More details and submission deadlines coming soon.

IASNR Mentoring Program– More details and submission deadlines coming soon.

Student Scholarships– ISSRM organizers are currently fundraising in order to be able to provide reduced registration costs for students.

Green Meeting Goals

The planning team for ISSRM 2019 is working hard to create a more environmentally sustainable meeting! We are working to minimize waste, use local foods for meals provided during the conference and find other ways to green our meeting.

Contact Us

Contact the IASNR office at [email protected] and the conference organizers at [email protected].

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2019 ISSRM – Call for Organized Session Proposals
Call for Organized Session Proposals: Proposals for Organized Panels, Paper Sessions, Book Review Sessions, and Workshops for ISSRM 2019 are now being considered!  This year’s symposium will be »

Call for Proposals to Host ISSRM 2021 and Beyond

Do you have a great gathering place for professionals and students from around the world interested in the nexus of society and natural resources? If so, we want to visit YOU! Please consider »

2019 ISSRM – Call for Organized Session Proposals

Call for Organized Session Proposals: Proposals for Organized Panels, Paper Sessions, Book Review Sessions, and Workshops for ISSRM 2019 are now being considered!  This year’s symposium will be »