Cornell Cinema Ithaca, NY


Steven Wolf

Associate Professor of Natural Resources and the Environment, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University

Koyaanisqatsi— Environmental (mis)management

Steven Wolf, Associate Professor of Natural Resources and the Environment in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, explores the contemporary relevance of Koyaanisqatsi. His research focuses on critical institutional analysis of environmental (mis)management. As expressed by Hollingsworth and Boyer, this is an effort to identify “the various institutional mechanisms by which economic activity is coordinated, with understanding the circumstances under which these various mechanisms are chosen, and with comprehending the logic inherent in different coordinating mechanisms.” The film and his brief introductory remarks invite participants to reflect on forces that shape landscapes, development, and prospects for re-enchantment.

Professor Wolf has taught with Koyaanisqatsi and Cornell Cinema in his “Environmental Governance” course for the past 15 years.

Cornell Cinema Ithaca, NY

Film Synopsis

A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity, and the relationship between them.

    Drawing its title from the Hopi word meaning "life out of balance," this renowned documentary reveals how humanity has grown apart from nature. Featuring extensive footage of natural landscapes and elemental forces, the film gives way to many scenes of modern civilization and technology. Given its lack of narration and dialogue, the production makes its points solely through imagery and music, with many scenes either slowed down or sped up for dramatic effect.

    Photo credit: New Cinema

    About the Speaker

    Steven Wolf teaches and conducts research on environmental governance (i.e., interplay of state and non-state actors in environmental (mis)management). His research advances critical institutional analysis applied to agriculture, forests and environmental change. Recent collaborations with students and postdoctoral researchers focus on India, China, Mexico, and USA. Current work centers on analysis of accountability relations and lack thereof.