Environmental Humanities

Humanities scholarship is a crucial part of environmental research and teaching.  The environmental humanities contextualizes and complements environmental science and policy with a focus on narrative, critical thinking, history, cultural analysis, aesthetics and ethics. For over twenty years, the University of Oregon has placed the environmental humanities at the center of conversations about our ecological futures.

The UO Environmental Studies Program is a national leader for integrated environmental humanities, making ours the the only AAU institution to offer a fully interdisciplinary doctoral degree in this field, with a stellar placement record. Home to two of the field’s leading journals (Environmental Philosophy and Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities), the university enjoys a uniquely collaborative relationship among the sciences, arts, social sciences, policy, and law, as well as an established record of “public humanities” engagement with local and regional community partners. Research areas with outstanding opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration include bioethics, climate change, environmental justice, ecocritical theory and philosophy, food studies, health, Native American and international indigenous studies, new media, urban environmental studies, and social movements.

The core undergraduate curriculum for the Environmental Studies Program has always devoted equal attention to environmental humanities, social sciences, and sciences.  The third section of the required year-long undergraduate sequence–ENVS (203): Introduction to Environmental Studies–is centered on humanistic approaches to environmental concerns.  Graduate students in both the MA and Ph.D. programs regularly focus their interdisciplinary course work and theses in areas such as literary study, philosophy, journalism, history, theatre arts, law, cultural geography, and art.  Core faculty and more than 100 participating faculty in ENVS offer courses in these areas, and frequent team-taught courses link various humanistic disciplines together or connect them with science and social science fields.  Faculty include two endowed chairs: Marsha Weisiger, Julie and Rocky Dixon Chair in Western History; and Stephanie LeMenager, Barbara and Carlisle Moore Chair in English.

The University of Oregon is known for visionary contributions to public-interest environmental law, a pioneering urban farm, world-class campus sustainability, and many environment-related research centers and institutes.  There is a web of relationships across campus that dynamically links Environmental Humanities work in the following areas:

Marsha Weisiger, Dreaming of Sheep

Marsha Weisiger, Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country

Stephanie LeMenager, Living Oil

Stephanie LeMenager, Living Oil

Ted Toadvine, Merleau-Ponty's Philosophy of Nature

Ted Toadvine, Merleau-Ponty’s Philosophy of Nature

Matthew Dennis, Seneca Possessed

Matthew Dennis, Seneca Possessed