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News from Environmental Humanities Initiative

How environmental humanities is changing the renewable energy conversation

November 12, 2021

ASU alumnus breaks down just energy transitions and the future of environmental justice

Written by Emily Balli

In September, the Department of Energy released the Solar Futures Study, outlining the Biden administration’s efforts to tackle climate change and significantly increase the use of renewable energy throughout the United States. One of the main takeaways of the study is the administration’s vision of decarbonizing the nation’s power grid by ramping up solar energy to power 40% of the nation by 2035.

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Feb 18: Black and Indigenous Relations of Doing and Being

January 26, 2021

Author Tiffany King will present the 2021 Environmental Humanities Initiative Distinguished Lecture, a keynote address of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture (ISSRNC) Conference.

Professor King’s research is situated at the intersections of slavery and indigenous genocide in the Americas. Author of The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies, King will discuss her forthcoming book project, Red and Black Alchemies of Flesh: Conjuring Decolonial and Abolitionist Presents.

This lecture, set for February 18 at 4:00 p.m. MST, is co-sponsored by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Institute for Humanities Research, the Black Ecologies Initiative and the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. Register online.

Video: Environmental Humanities Initiative distinguished lecture with Elizabeth Hoover

September 29, 2020

The Environmental Humanities Initiative's 2020 distinguished lecture with Elizabeth Hoover was rescheduled to November 5. The lecture was accompanied by a reading group event series.

Watch the recording of the lecture discussion, and a pre-recorded distinguished lecture video.

Elizabeth Hoover's work focuses upon Native American food sovereignty and seed rematriation; environmental reproductive justice in Native American communities; the cultural impact of fish advisories on Native communities; and tribal citizen science. She serves on the executive committee of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance and the board of North American Traditional Indigenous Food.

Her first book, The River is In Us: Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community, is an ethnographic exploration of Akwesasne Mohawks’ response to Superfund contamination and environmental health research. Her second book, a project-in-progress, From Garden Warriors to Good Seeds; Indigenizing the Local Food Movement, explores Native American community-based farming and gardening projects and the role of Native chefs in the food movement.

Register for this live online event.

Wednesday: Teaching in the Wake of Racial Violence with Carol Anderson

August 11, 2020

All are invited to attend an August 12 conversation with acclaimed historian Carol Anderson, human and civil rights advocate, expert on African American history and 20th-century politics and the author of the critically-acclaimed "White Rage." The event is sponsored by ASU's Institute for Humanities Research.

Anderson will be interviewed by Ayanna Thompson, director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and professor in the ASU Department of English, and Mako Ward, faculty head and clinical assistant professor in the ASU School of Social Transformation.

This free event is an ASU Humanities, Social Sciences and Institute for Humanities Research collaboration. It is free and open to the public. Register for the Zoom webinar or watch live on YouTube.

Antiracist Resources curated by the IHR

July 22, 2020

A list of antiracist resources is now available on the Institute for Humanities Research website for use in humanities courses and for the community. The IHR is led by Elizabeth Langland, director of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, and sustainability scientist Ronald Broglio, program lead of the Desert Humanities Initiative.

Project Humanities launches new podcast club

ASU Now | June 8, 2020

COVID-19 has birthed a new podcast club, which provides a unique way to talk about the things that make us human. The series is founded by sustainability scholar Neal Lester, founding director of Project Humanities.

It’s essentially an extension of the award-winning initiative's event series and is designed to keep community conversations going during summer 2020. For this new programming, Project Humanities has selected popular podcasts that are accessible, provocative and linked to topics related to past and future Project Humanities events. These one-hour virtual conversations will be co-facilitated by a Project Humanities team member in partnership with community members, supporters and partners.

The hour-long podcast discussions will occur every other Thursday at 6 p.m. (MST) and will be broadcast via Zoom and Facebook Live. Topics include corporeal punishment and African American parenting, death and dying, youth mental health as related to academic pressures, menstrual equity, and police departments and neglected rape kits.

New online magazine 'Transformations' explores role of change

ASU Now | May 28, 2020

Change is often unexpected, sometimes painful and always transformative. In the midst of a world beset with unprecedented change, the Narrative Storytelling Initiative at ASU has launched its latest venture: an online magazine called Transformations, a collaboration with the Los Angeles Review of Books that features powerful, personal essays. The magazine is edited by sustainability scholar Steven Beschloss, director of ASU’s Narrative Storytelling Initiative.

Transformations features personal essays inspired by the belief that sharing transformative stories has the power to influence the trajectory of our lives. At launch time, Transformations features six essays, five of which were written by ASU professors, though Beschloss said the magazine welcomes submissions beyond professors and the university, expecting to publish one new essay each week.

ASU Environmental Humanities Initiative is partner in Global Humanities Institute grant

ASU Now | April 23, 2020

The Environmental Humanities Initiative of the Institute for Humanities Research at Arizona State University is collaborating with the University of Texas Humanities Institute in a grant awarded by the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), located at the University of Wisconsin System. The grant, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is for the purpose of conducting a Global Humanities Institute (GHI) in summer 2021 on the theme “Climate Justice and Problems of Scale.” This will be the fifth GHI funded through the CHCI-Mellon partnership.

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After 50 years of Earth Day, ASU environmental experts see shift to grassroots activism

ASU Now | April 21, 2020

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, attitudes in the United States concerning environmentalism have gradually evolved from a focus on addressing pollution to a focus on protecting and nurturing our ecosystems. And as that transformation has taken place over the decades, two Arizona State University professors have been there to witness it all.

Joni Adamson, the President's Professor of Environmental Humanities in the Department of English and director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and Paul Hirt, a professor of history specializing in the American West, environmental history and policy and sustainability studies, shared their thoughts on how the country’s attitude toward saving the planet changed in an interview with ASU Now. Both Adamson and Hirt acknowledged that there’s been a shift in focus each decade, including in Arizona:

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President’s Professor leads first international discussion about the best ways to teach environmental humanities

ASU Now | January 7, 2020

Arizona State University Department of English President’s Professor Joni Adamson, an internationally renowned professor in environmental humanities and director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, has helped transform the field of environmental humanities — not only at ASU — but globally.

Adamson and Christopher Jones, an associate professor of history in ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, were part of a team of 23 authors from 10 countries to publish new research in the journal Environmental Humanities. The article, titled “Teaching the Environmental Humanities: International Perspectives and Practices,” delves into how environmental humanities courses and programs are rapidly expanding globally, and how universities should teach the interdisciplinary field.

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ASU researchers to address the question of how religion and science intersect

October 1, 2019

Translucent Anatomical 3d rendering of person facing away with multicolored lights emanating from their mindResearchers from Arizona State University have launched a new project to explore how we reconcile our search for spirituality in a secular age of technoscientific advancements.

Titled “Beyond Secularization: A New Approach to Religion, Science and Technology,” the interdisciplinary initiative has received a $1.7 million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust and has the potential to revolutionize how we understand the intersection of religion, science and technology in public life. It will establish a collaboratory that will include graduate students, postdocs and faculty who will develop and advance new research methods and understandings over the next several years.

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The inconvenient consequences of a culture of convenience

View Source | October 5, 2018

Huge expanse of plastic waste with sunsetSingle-use plastics — such as cups with straws, takeout containers and water bottles — are so common in our culture of convenience that we often don’t give them a second thought.

But their momentary utility is misleading: These items stick around a really long time.

Because of the way plastic is designed, “its afterlife is much longer than its useful lifespan,” said Rolf Halden, director of the Biodesign Institute's Center for Environmental Health Engineering at Arizona State University. Plastic that we use for just a moment “has the potential to pollute for decades, centuries or millennia.”

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Cambridge University Press’s New Directions in Sustainability and Society book series appoints new editors

August 27, 2018

In 2013, Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability and the Amerind Foundation entered a partnership with Cambridge University Press to publish a book series exploring the impact of the sustainability sciences. That series, New Directions in Sustainability and Society (NDSS), has just been renewed by Cambridge University Press under new leadership. ASU professors Joni Adamson, an environmental humanist, and Shauna BurnSilver, an environmental anthropologist, have been tapped as the new series editors. The renewed series will expand the original collaboration to include ASU’s Environmental Humanities Initiative.

During its first five years, NDSS was co-edited by Christopher Boone, dean of ASU’s School of Sustainability, and and Norman Yoffee, professor emeritus at University of Michigan’s Department of Anthropology and Department of Near Eastern Studies. Several compelling works were published, including "Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Learning from Indigenous Practices for Environmental Sustainability." This book emerged from a symposium held in 2013 at the Amerind Foundation which gathered sustainability, anthropology and humanities scholars from ASU and across the U.S. to think about sustainability from the perspectives of indigenous peoples. Published in 2018 and edited by Melissa K. Nelson and Dan Shilling, "Traditional Ecological Knowledge" is an exemplar of the collaborative potential of NDSS projects.

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Government policy, public perception and real-world economic consequence

View Source | July 12, 2018

Power plant on the Navajo NationEarth is experiencing a Great Transition as its peoples slowly shift from fossil fuels to wind, plants, natural processes and our sun.

It’s not the first time people have changed where they get their energy sources, but as energy historian Chris Jones

said, what makes the Great Transition different is that this time we need to get rid of something, instead of just adding something. Climate change is the binding constraint.

Arizona State University is part of a new coalition of 13 leading research universities committed to tackling climate change. The group — called the University Climate Change Coalition — includes universities from the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Read the full story on ASU Now to learn how ASU energy scholars are confronting the difficult challenges of transforming the climate narrative and enacting change through policy.

Solar technology seeking a balance

View Source | July 11, 2018

Solar panels line the top of a building on ASU campus in TempeArizona. Where you don’t have to shovel sunshine, as the old tourism ads chortled. At Arizona State University, students and alumni are Sun Devils. The sun is in the university logo. Solar panels cover almost every structure.

It’s natural then that solar panels take the biggest slice of ASU’s energy research pie. Financial estimates for the next decade point to more than $1 trillion invested in renewable energy globally.

Read the full story on ASU Now to learn more about the evolution of solar energy technology happening at ASU, where researchers are look to find affordable, reliable solutions.

ASU on the forefront of a Great Transition

View Source | July 9, 2018

Aerial view of a city skyline with a river at sunsetThere is a Great Transition underway, a colossal shift from fossil fuels to wind, plants, natural processes and our sun. It’s born from technological innovation and necessity. If humanity continues to dispel the dark entirely with carbon fuels, we will eventually wipe ourselves out.

Renewable energy sources are no longer the sole province of Northern California hippies and hard-core Alaskan survivalists.

Are we skipping blithely toward a clean-air future, with solar panels on every roof and an electric car in every garage? Not at all. Experts agree your energy future will involve a mix of sources. It will also involve solving a massive problem that is composed of thousands of problems itself.

Read the full story on ASU Now to learn what Arizona State University researchers are doing to develop scalable, renewable energy solutions for the "wicked problem" of fossil fuel consumption.

ASU sustainability scholar explores the origins of human thinking on climate

View Source | May 24, 2018

Joni AdamsonAs Joni Adamson tells it, these are exciting times for the environmental humanities. And she should know: Adamson, a senior sustainability scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, was recently awarded a highly sought-after fellowship from the National Humanities Center and is now looking forward to advancing her work in this realm.

Adamson, whose work explores the intersections between literature and the environment from the perspective of environmental justice, has been tapped to receive the Benjamin N. Duke Fellowship of the Research Triangle Foundation. She is working on a new book that aims to trace the origins of human thinking on climate.

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ASU hosts Environmental Humanities workshop

February 7, 2018

Mike HulmeIn January 2018, over 40 participants from universities around the world gathered at ASU for a workshop co-sponsored by the Environmental Humanities Initiative and the PLuS Alliance.

The workshop focused on the ways that humanities methodologies are contributing to interdisciplinary collaboration and participatory engagement on climate change and energy transition. Participants also explored how better assessment of impact might be piloted through modes of inquiry that include narrative, story, metaphor, imagery and representations that convey the cultural knowledge behind decision making.

Mike Hulme, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Cambridge, kicked off the workshop with a 2018 EHI lecture titled “The Cultural Functions of Climate.” Workshop sessions were keynoted by leading international cultural geographers, humanists and philosophers, including Giovanna Di Chiro of Swarthmore College and Kyle Powys Whyte of Michigan State University.

We followed up with Joni Adamson – English and Environmental Humanities Professor, Senior Sustainability Scholar & Director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative – to tell us more about the workshop and EHI:

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ASU Environmental Humanities alumni help launch Latin American Observatory

July 5, 2017

Coleman Perez Pulecio Awards Ceremony DetroitThe Environmental Humanities Initiative (EHI) networks faculty and students from across 22 units at ASU and is rapidly expanding its international partnerships.

This was evident at the recent Conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment held in Detroit, Michigan. ASU alumni who have studied with EHI faculty traveled to the conference to participate in the launch of the newest observatory in the global Humanities for the Environment network.

Since 2013, ASU has served as the headquarters of the North American (NA) Observatory. Funded in its first phase by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and ASU’s Office of the President, the NA Observatory is in a second phase in which it is supporting the expansion of the network to Latin America, Africa and the Circumpolar North.

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