Dr. Patrick Fuery is always coming up with new and exciting opportunities for CCI students. His latest endeavor includes partnering with a wolf sanctuary to study humans’ relationship with the wild. Yes, you heard me right, students will be studying real life wolves.
As part of on ongoing effort to engender engaging and creative opportunities for CCI students, Dr. Fuery submitted a grant application to The Culture and Animals Foundation, which provides financing and support to programs that deal with the environment, such as projects about sustainability. The foundation divides their funding into tracks: one based on research and the other based on creative projects. Dr. Fuery thought that the CCI program was a perfect fit because it does both.
There were over 193 grant applications from 53 countries submitted to the Culture and Animals Foundation, and lucky for CCI students, Dr. Fuery’s was one of the few chosen.
“It appealed to me because I always wanted to do something with wolves,” Dr. Fuery said. “And that was the genesis for my idea: how could we create something that will engage the students in this complex relationship of animals and culture. And, and of course, I wanted to do the theme of rewilding.”
Rewilding is the process of “restoring (an area of land) to its natural uncultivated state” and is often used in reference to reintroducing species of wild animals to areas where they’ve been driven out by humans. It has the potential to “increase biodiversity, create self-sustainable environments and mitigate climate change.”
Dr. Fuery plans to take students to Wolf Connection, a wolf sanctuary in Angeles National Forest, and hopes that students will develop a personal attachment to the animals through taking photographs and writing pieces about their experiences, which will then be displayed in an exhibition on campus.
“I think one of the things that will happen is the students will become attached to a particular wolf. And I want them to kind of engage as a reflection on what it is to be up close with this wild animal, and how their relationship to the notion of wildness and wilderness changed,” Dr. Fuery said. “And the sub line in the project, which is a little trickier to kind of articulate, is how does this enable us to rewild ourselves? So when they talk about rewilding, it's all about turning vast tracts of land or forest back to its most natural environment. But I want us to explore the idea of can we do that to ourselves? Is there a part of us which needs to be rewilded?”
Dr. Fuery specifically chose the wolf as the subject for study because humanity’s relationship to the dog is very profound and the wolf is the wild echo of dogs.
“I find the wolf motif intriguing because it does act between the true wild and the over civilized. And that's where they tend to connect” Dr. Fuery said. “ We are used to the domesticated dog, as a kind of a familiar. But the wolf has more in the way of psychology and an uncanny feel to it. And its representation in films and literature is obviously very, very extensive. So it works on a number of different levels.”
Dr. Fuery hopes that audiences who see the exhibition, see the photographs, and read the stories about students’ experiences will be encouraged to reflect on their own connection to the wild, ponder it, and question it. If you’re interested in more information about this project or passionate about participating, please reach out to Dr. Fuery at firstname.lastname@example.org.