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The Environmental Humanities Initiative (EHI) explores how art, history, literature, philosophy, religion, anthropology, ethnic studies, film, geography and music each serve as entry points to vibrant discussions about the complex relationships between people, place, and planet. The EHI seeks to facilitate broad participation of faculty, research scholars, and students from across the disciplines and to work with community members in innovating solutions that increase equitable, just and sustainable access to environmental benefits, while mitigating environmental burdens. Faculty affiliated with the EHI are exploring questions about what it means to be human amongst other species and how we define our obligations to future generations of life on the planet.
Since 2008, the Institute for Humanities Research, the Wrigley Institute, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, the Center for Science and Imagination, the Climate Imagination Initiative, the Center for Science, Policy and Outcomes, and the School for Future Innovation in Society have been actively networking to build collaborative strength in the environmental humanities through research, education, and outreach.
In 2013, the IHR was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon research grant through the Center for Humanities Center and Institutes to develop the North American Observatory, one of eight Humanities for the Environment (HfE) Observatories. The North American Observatory, which convened ASU faculty with faculty from nine other universities across the U.S., developed several public-facing, ongoing projects that identify, explore, and demonstrate the contributions that humanistic and artistic disciplines can make to understanding and engaging with global environmental challenges. The work of the NAO is ongoing.
In education, the undergraduate Environmental Humanities Certificate was launched in 2009 and EH faculty offer a wide range of graduate courses across the disciplines that allow students to explore the full interdisciplinary nature of interlinked social and environmental systems.
In outreach, the EHI regularly presents an Annual Distinguished speaker series, among other events, that are open to the public and holds a yearly “town hall” to chart future collaborations and events. Past speakers have included Vandana Shiva, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Mike Hulme, and Sir Jonathan Bate.