The Seed Box

Environmental research has primarily been a focus for the Natural and Engineering Sciences. In the contemporary world, with a dramatic increase in the effects and impacts of climate change, we can no longer conceive of nature as separate from culture. According to some, we are now in new geological era called the “Anthropocene,” an age characterized by the significant impact of human activities on the earth. Human activities have created toxic waste zones, climate changes, biodiversity loss, water and soil degradation, along with other environmental problems. These changes hit us also right back in diverse ways, perhaps in the form of food scarcity, allergies or the slow violence of toxic incursion and environmental diseases. Nature, it seems, is as much inside us as are we humans are within nature. Research, however, largely remains in the divisions between nature and culture – and need to reconsider these distinctions in interdisciplinary synergy. We need a more vibrant and socially relevant humanities that can more fully encompass nature, nonhuman animals, and the ecological context of other sciences and alternative or indigenous stories of knowing and being in the world. We require now an integrated and comprehensive approach that can respond to changes as quickly as the world that we seek to investigate. Constantly evolving and difficult to define, the Environmental Humanities is precisely the kind of nature-culture research that can:

think through, analyze with and interpret the environment problematize dominant environmental stories through critique, creativity, intersectional justice and other forms of resistance build bridges between disparate environmental stories, disciplines and social communities Our program offers a pilot-model for such a contemporary vision of the Environmental Humanities (EH), an interdisciplinary nature-culture research forum with Humanities at its core. Such a program is based on firmly established research in the Environmental Humanities. Our interdisciplinary research themed departments at Linköping University (Tema) have since 1985 produced over forty theses in Environmental Humanities. This includes both traditional forms of the environmental humanities and innovative forms of critical and creative “posthumanities” studies, illustrating new ways to bridge the gap between the Natural and Cultural Sciences, as well as between universities and society, and with a focus on post-human ethics in a “more-than-human” world. This research program is thus unique in the ways it can meet the challenges we confront within a current and wider ranging view of Environmental Humanities (advanced perspectives in post-colonial criticism, bioethics, gender and diversity research, for example), integrated ethics, and a comprehensive, inter- and trans-disciplinary expertise in culture, society, nature, and environmental research.

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