Intersections of Language and Nature: Conservation, Documentation, and Access

Bird voice conference logo
6–7 September 2019
University of Pittsburgh


Bird voice conference logo

In the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages we invite you to join us in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 6th and 7th to explore Intersections of Language and Nature: Conservation, Documentation, and Access

The two-day symposium brings together scholars from indigenous communities, conservation practice, the arts, and academia to address the parallel threats facing linguistic and biological diversity and explore opportunities for collaboration.

As scholarship on biocultural diversity has demonstrated, interesting correlations have been observed across linguistic and biological diversity. Using Ethno-ornithology as a framework, we will investigate the potential for holistic approaches to conservation and scholarship implicit in these observations.

We believe opportunity can be found in:

  • Greater interdisciplinary and intercultural synergy;
  • Global connectivity and citizen science initiatives enabled by current technology;
  • And in decolonization of local knowledge through local-to-global networks, recognition of a multiplicity of knowledge systems, and improved accessibility.

Integration of local linguistic and cultural knowledge systems with biological conservation practice is key to political and community engagement efforts, particularly within a locally managed conservation framework. Equally, working together across disciplines in recognition of the interrelatedness of people, language, and place may lead to better systems of language documentation and a more nuanced understanding of local knowledge in conservation practice, as well as provide a global stage by which local communities can actively engage in dialogue relevant to their cultures and environments. 

Find out more on the conference website >>

Key Themes:

  • Conservation:
    • How are intersections of language and nature relevant to conservation of species and languages?
    • How does traditional ecological knowledge contribute to the conservation of nature and language?
    • How can we better engage communities as stewards of their local cultures and environments?
  • Documentation:
    • How can we improve our understanding of both global language and species distribution?
    • How can technology enhance language and species documentation?
    • How can we better recognize and collaborate with local knowledge holders?
  • Access:
    • How can we make knowledge and resources more widely accessible?
    • How do we communicate back to the global community that there are locally meaningful practices of conservation in action and how do we protect that space?

Poster Submissions:          

Participants are invited to submit abstracts for poster sessions on any aspect of the intersections of nature and language. If you are interested in taking part in the poster sessions, please send an abstract of no more than 500 words to before 15 July 2019. Notification of acceptance will be sent to the authors by 31 July 2019.


Registration is now open:

Registration Fees: All conference participants (including panel members, workshop participants, and poster presenters) should register.


Early Bird*





Registered Student



Indigenous Scholar



*Note: Early Bird registration closes on July 15 2019

What’s included: The registration fee covers the cost of the conference, lunches, reception, banquet, and exhibits.




Additional Expenses:

Field Trip – Sunday, September 8: Tickets for a post-conference field trip to the National Aviary are an additional $20.

Additional Tickets for Guests: Extra tickets can be purchased for the reception, banquet, and/or Sunday Field Trip.

Additional Reception Ticket: $40

Additional Banquet Ticket: $55

Additional Field Trip Ticket: $20


Accommodation: We have a limited number of hotel rooms, at a discounted conference rate, available the Oakland neighborhood.  Please BOOK SOON to avoid disappointment.


Further details:

Location and logistics



Important Dates:

Poster abstract submission deadline: 15 July 2019

Conference: 67 September 2019

Conference Fieldtrip: 8 September 2019

Early Bird Registration Closes: 15 July 2019

Registration Closes: 1 September 2019



Dr. Karen Park; University of Pittsburgh, Linguistics

Dr. Felice Wyndham; University of Oxford, Anthropology

Dr. Andrew Gosler; University of Oxford, Ornithology

Dr. John Fanshawe; BirdLife International, Cambridge Conservation Initiative

Ms. Allison Thompson Mosely; University of Pittsburgh


For questions, please contact us at

Mailing Address: Dr. Karen Park; 2831 Cathedral of Learning; Department of Linguistics, University of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh, PA 15260


The conference is part of the multi-institutional research programme Creative Multilingualism, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Our research group is a large cross-disciplinary team of academics working on the nexus between linguistic diversity and creativity. The conference is being organized by Strand 2 of Creative Multilingualism: Creating a Meaningful World: Nature in Name, Metaphor and Myth.

We look forward to welcoming you in Pittsburgh!