What are the Environmental Humanities?
Environmental Humanities—An Evolutionary Journey
Since 2006, ASU has been contributing to the environmental humanities both internally and externally, counting some of the founders of the field among its faculty. ASU has also been actively hiring some of the brightest early career environmental humanities scholars. The IHR’s Environmental Humanities Initiative (EHI) has long played a leading role in developing and advancing environmental humanities internationally as well—from the launch of the Environmental Humanities Certificate at the Poly and Tempe campuses in 2009, to the IHR’s co-founding, with several other leading universities, of the world’s preeminent environmental humanities network, the Humanities for the Environment Global Observatories (HfE), in 2013.
Founding units at ASU included the Department of English, the School of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies (SHPRS), The School of International Letters and Cultures (SILC), the School of the Future of Innovation in Society (SFIS), and the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts (CISA). Environmental humanities faculty can also be found in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, American Indian Studies, and the School of Transborder Studies. Each of these units has worked closely with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation and aim to continue that collaborative relationship with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory. The EHI contributes to these collaborations by continuing to expand upon its transdisciplinary legacy, drawing upon anticolonial, antiracist, feminist, and intersectional scholarship and diverse cultures and ontologies in order to provide a better picture of “humans” in all their global diversity, deep histories, and complex, often inequitable, interrelationships with each other and with the nonhuman. Embracing a more holistic perspective of life on earth, EHI Affiliate are working to bring about a future in which humans and nonhumans thrive in intergenerationally just and equitable relationships.
Most recently, EHI affiliates Joni Adamson and Sally Kitch led a bid by the Global Futures Laboratory (GFL) to become the host of the new Global Flagship Hub for the BRIDGES Sustainability Science Coalition (an UNESCO MOST Programme). As part of the GFL, the Global Flagship Hub is located in the Rob and Melani Walton Center for Planetary Health, but it will function as the coordinating body across all BRIDGES Global Hubs and partnerships. In addition to carving out space for greater influence from diverse knowledges and praxis in sustainability science and action (especially those representing traditionally marginalized communities, cultures, and disciplines), the humanities-led, transdisciplinary BRIDGES Coalition will facilitate cross-cultural and transdisciplinary engagement among ASU faculty and their international BRIDGES colleagues in co-creating projects aimed at addressing the intersecting challenges and goals of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
From the Director
Humanists raise questions: Must we continue on this path? Can we imagine a shift in course? Environmental humanists encourage us to develop “prospect” on human relationship to the planet instead of seeking “progress” for the sake of progress. Prospect suggests vision and the possibility of something auspicious on the horizon.
Environmental humanists encourage us to understand biogeophysical systems, cultivate broader prospectives, envision auspicious futures, and participate imaginatively in shifting the narrative about who we are, where we are going, and how we will get there.
–Joni Adamson President’s Professor and Founding Director, Environmental Humanities Initiative (EHI), Distinguished Sustainability Scholar, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation