By Samantha Rothbart
Years ago, when I began the daunting task of deciding what to study university, it seemed that everyone around me was warning against the frivolity of a humanities degree. If I wanted to go down that route, I’d become a penniless writer, an actor down on her luck, or join the ranks of unemployable historians, anthropologists, or sociologists milling idly about. What exactly did such people do? How did they live? Without a business degree, I was told, my future looked grim. Those same people would likely have scoffed upon even hearing the term “Environmental Humanities,” never mind discovering that it is an actual field of study in which one can obtain a degree. Big environmental problems needed scientists and engineers to solve them. What could the Environmental Humanities possibly be good for? As it turns out, rather a lot. Read More
On 15 March this year, 1.5 million people—young students in particular—took to the streets around the world to protest for climate justice, as part of the Fridays for Future (FFF) movement. Since last summer, when 16-year-old Swedish high-school student Greta Thunberg started “skipping” class each Friday to protest her government’s inadequate action to address climate change, FFF has grown into a global movement. FFF brings together young students (and many others) who are worried about their future and are fed up with global leaders’ relative lack of action to curtail pollution and environmental destruction. Read More
The Taproom is a monthly series that explores the rich history of all things beer. It is curated by Pavla Šimková.
From 1873 to 1879, in Dellona, Wisconsin, Ella Seymour kept a sporadic record of her life. Her careful handwriting curled across the blue and red lines of the little ledger she used as a diary. She recounted the weather, illness, chores, and visits like so many of her fellow diarists of the nineteenth century. She reports: “We arranged beds, cleaned windows, and Ida mopped some. Ma and I took care of Arthur [presumably a little brother] by turns in the night.” On 31 August, she washed, ironed, and churned. On 1 September, she ironed and baked. And on 3 September, she picked 1 ½ boxes of hops.
Since I was a child, I have had the opportunity to travel around Colombia with my family and friends, and to explore a wide variety of ecosystems ranging from tropical rainforests to deserts, savannas, and páramos. By traveling through these remote landscapes, I became fascinated not only by nature’s “pristine” character, but also by the large-scale infrastructure projects that were crossing, dissecting and (dis)connecting these landscapes. Dams, highways, water reservoirs, canals, and power lines captured my attention both for their scale, and for the capacity of humans to control and dominate nature. Read More
“Two modes of understanding dominate the history of ideas. One posits the overarching unity of knowledge, the other cherishes its multifarious diversity. Unity is the goal of those who seek a single all-encompassing explanation of everything. Diversity is lauded by those who commend difference and variety as life-enhancing” (p. 1).
This is the underlying idea through which David Lowenthal explores major themes of pressing social and environmental relevance in Western thinking in his Quest for the Unity of the Knowledge, his last work published before his death in 2018. Is unifying knowledge achievable? Is it desirable? Answering these questions had been the central theme in the divide between the “Two Cultures,” namely the natural sciences and humanities. The natural sciences model the world through the language of mathematics, of “objectiveness” and logical coherence, seeking an ultimate answer or “theory of everything” that could explain worldly phenomena. The humanities, in contrast, emphasize the role of subjective experience, promoting multi-layered explanations of reality, and criticizing what many see as a disenchantment and soullessness that science has brought upon the natural world. Read More
By Mary Killilea
The day started with an introduction by Anne Rademacher (see her PowerPoint presentation below) on the Killilea–Rademacher collaboration, the NYU Urban Greening Lab. After the presentation, we discussed the potential outcomes of the City Environments around the Globe collaboration.
Nestled between Vaasa in Finland and Umeå in Sweden is a mysterious moving landscape. The geology of the Kvarken Archipelago National Park makes it a dynamic and transient place, yet the recognizable Scandinavian climate and ecology lends it a timeless quality. In 2006 it became Finland’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site due to these unique environments, its slowly transforming landscapes, and the local traditions of its inhabitants.
From 16–21 September 2018, it also hosted a unique group of international scholars during the first ever training event of the Marie Sklodowska Curie (MSCA) Innovative Training Network program, RECOMS: Resourceful and Resilient Communities. The program’s 15 fellows and their mentors, as well as partners from the network, met to discuss future activities of the program, specific topics such as photography, resilience and resourcefulness, identity, and intersectionality, and key skills like leadership, management, and team building.
Among the participants were two RCC early-stage researchers and the institute’s director Christof Mauch. Here, in an excerpt from his diary from the field trip, Christof shares with us some interesting facts and unique impressions of Vaasa and the Kvarken National Park.
On 15 February, the RCC played host to a poster exhibition on ecocriticism. Master’s-level students working with Dr Felicitas Meifert-Menhard from LMU Munich’s English department had spent a semester learning about the wide reach and application of reading literary texts ecologically—not just contemporary texts concerned with anthropogenic climate change, but also much older texts that can help us complicate our ideas about what nature is, or comprehend the complexity of the human relationship with the natural world. Read More
Despite Carolyn Merchant’s provocative 1990 article on gender and environment in the Journal of American History, this multifaceted discipline remains an under-developed area of inquiry. For example, the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) conference in July 2017 hosted just one panel on gender and environmental history, while presentations in the area at the 2017 American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) were similarly sparse. More recently, discussions on social media confirmed that few environmental historians have considered the implications of a gendered analysis for understanding environmental change.