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CLA Environmental Humanities Initiative Launches

Professor Philippon instrumental in organizing new programming
February 14, 2017

Professor Dan Philippon is one of three U professors launching the Environmental Humanities Initiative (EHI), which seeks to catalyze research, foster pedagogical innovation, and enhance public outreach among College of Liberal Arts faculty and graduate students interested in humanistic approaches to environmental issues. Professor Philippon's spring 2018 course ENGL8090 Ecocritical Food Studies will be cross-promoted through this initiative, which will also sponsor events, a film series, a biannual graduate student workshop, and program development. To sign up for announcements of EHI events and initiatives, email envhum@umn.edu.

According to the initiative announcement, the name "Environmental Humanities" has emerged as an "umbrella term to describe the work of humanistic scholars, artists, and teachers broadly motivated by concerns about the environment. Rather than focusing solely on scientific and technological solutions to problems, the environmental humanities address these complex issues through the multiple lenses of history, philosophy, literature, language, culture, religion, and the visual and performing arts. In addition, the environmental humanities engage a wide range of related fields, including indigenous studies, political ecology, food studies, cultural geography, animal studies, and cultural anthropology, and investigate such keywords as sustainability, the Anthropocene, and posthumanism. Many who identify as part of the environmental humanities also seek to bridge the divide between academic analysis and environmental discourse and practice in the public sphere."

The U's Environmental Humanities Initiative will be notable for its transnational orientation. At least 20 CLA faculty are currently involved in research, teaching, and outreach related to the Environmental Humanities. The two other initiating professors are Christine Marran (Department of Asian Languages & Literatures) and Charlotte Melin (Department of German, Scandinavian and Dutch).