Jennifer E. Telesca is assistant professor of environmental justice in the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies at the Pratt Institute. Her research takes a critical approach to ocean studies, spanning the interests of the human–animal relationship, science and technology in policymaking, political economy, environmental diplomacy, and ethnographies of international law in society. She does fieldwork at the United Nations and in treaty bodies, diplomatic missions, and other sites scaled supranationally.
Telesca is the author of Red Gold: The Managed Extinction of the Giant Bluefin Tuna (University of Minnesota Press, 2020). Her work has appeared in such journals as The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology; Cultural Anthropology; Environment and Society; Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development; and Law and Society Review. She has contributed to the online magazines, Hakai and Yale Environment 360 and to the edited volume, Timescales: Thinking across Ecological Temporalities (University of Minnesota Press, 2020). Grants from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the Furthermore Foundation: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, among others, have generously supported her research and writing over the years.
Telesca is trained to cross disciplines. By meandering past the silos in academic fields, she incites fresh thinking through unexpected scholarly alliance. This mode of engagement was honed in her pursuit of a PhD in media, culture, and communication from New York University, where she earned a Distinguished Dissertation Award. She also holds double MAs, one in law and society from New York University and the other in anthropology from the University of Connecticut—Storrs. At the latter she earned a graduate certificate in women’s studies. Prior to graduate school, she received a BA with departmental honors in history from the University of Richmond.
In 2018, Telesca joined an international research team of anthropologists, legal scholars, and climate scientists to execute the large-scale, cross-disciplinary project, “Mare Nullius? Sea Level Rise and Maritime Sovereignties in the Pacific—An Expanded Anthropology of Climate Change,” funded by the Research Council of Norway’s TOPPFORSK Programme for Scientific Excellence. In this capacity, she follows the development of ocean governance as it relates to UN Sustainable Development Goal #14 (Life below Water) and to a treaty now in formation dedicated in name to marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).
In 2017, Telesca won the Positive Impact Award for Leadership in Sustainability Education at the Pratt Institute. There she teaches courses on environmental justice, the human-animal relationship, and the ocean as a site of political economy, among others. In the classroom she encourages students to push through the anxiety wrought by ecological destruction, not to deny or erase it but to confront directly our predicament for healing ever to occur. What worlds can we imagine—and install—that would neutralize the forces separating people from each other and from the biomes shared with other animate beings? The goal is to discover, to reclaim, to love, to respect, to become curious about, to care for all sorts of life on our planetary home.
Jen lives in New York City. You can find her on long walks, kayaking, cultivating plants, following the seemingly impossible feats of the beautiful game, and learning how to better multispecies relate. Her activity on social media is thin and spotty. Better to reach her directly at jtelesca[at]pratt.edu.