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News from Environmental Humanities Initiative

ASU sustainability scholar explores the origins of human thinking on climate

ASU Wrigley Institute News Environmental Humanities

May 24, 2018

As Joni Adamson tells it, these are exciting times for the environmental humanities. And she should know: Adamson, a senior sustainability scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, was recently awarded a highly sought-after fellowship from the National Humanities Center and is now looking forward to advancing her work in this realm.

Adamson, whose work explores the intersections between literature and the environment from the perspective of environmental justice, has been tapped to receive the Benjamin N. Duke Fellowship of the Research Triangle Foundation. She is working on a new book that aims to trace the origins of human thinking on climate.

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ASU hosts Environmental Humanities workshop

ASU Wrigley Institute News Environmental Humanities

February 7, 2018

In January 2018, over 40 participants from universities around the world gathered at ASU for a workshop co-sponsored by the Environmental Humanities Initiative and the PLuS Alliance.

The workshop focused on the ways that humanities methodologies are contributing to interdisciplinary collaboration and participatory engagement on climate change and energy transition. Participants also explored how better assessment of impact might be piloted through modes of inquiry that include narrative, story, metaphor, imagery and representations that convey the cultural knowledge behind decision making.

Mike Hulme, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Cambridge, kicked off the workshop with a 2018 EHI lecture titled “The Cultural Functions of Climate.” Workshop sessions were keynoted by leading international cultural geographers, humanists and philosophers, including Giovanna Di Chiro of Swarthmore College and Kyle Powys Whyte of Michigan State University.

We followed up with Joni Adamson – English and Environmental Humanities Professor, Senior Sustainability Scholar & Director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative – to tell us more about the workshop and EHI:

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ASU Environmental Humanities alumni help launch Latin American Observatory

Environmental Humanities

July 5, 2017

The Environmental Humanities Initiative (EHI) networks faculty and students from across 22 units at ASU and is rapidly expanding its international partnerships.

This was evident at the recent Conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment held in Detroit, Michigan. ASU alumni who have studied with EHI faculty traveled to the conference to participate in the launch of the newest observatory in the global Humanities for the Environment network.

Since 2013, ASU has served as the headquarters of the North American (NA) Observatory. Funded in its first phase by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and ASU’s Office of the President, the NA Observatory is in a second phase in which it is supporting the expansion of the network to Latin America, Africa and the Circumpolar North.

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For the Love of Life, Religion and Ecology

ASU Wrigley Institute News Environmental Humanities

January 27, 2017

by Adam Gabriele Roger S. Gottlieb smiling outdoors

Religions have undeniably shaped today’s world. Scholars in the field of Religion and Ecology study the billions of people worldwide who not only identify but also define themselves religiously.  They argue that any attempt to understand the thoughts and decision-making processes of human agents without considering religious drivers is impoverished.

Scholars of Religion and Ecology study religiously charged conflict and division, but they also highlight the potential for respectful inter-religious communication and cooperation. Indeed, Lynn White’s influential 1967 article “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis” – a central text in the field – makes the case that ideas particular to certain religions and religious scripture are most responsible for our current environmental precariousness.  He references the Hebrew Bible, for example, which authorizes humankind to have “dominion over the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

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Understanding climate change through history

Environmental Humanities

December 22, 2016

Colorful Mayan calendar in a park
Mayan calendar, Coszumel, Mexico
By Eytan6

by Sharonah Fredrick, Assistant Director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at ASU

How did the medieval Norse and Inuit peoples adapt to their changing climates in 14th century Greenland? Can people today learn from these histories?

On October 6, 2016, the School of Sustainability, the School for Social Transformation, and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) came together to grapple with these kinds of imaginative and scholarly questions.  At an event titled “Climate Change in Historical Perspective,” panelists covered topics that moved from the ancient Americas through medieval Greenland, and from contemporary communities threatened by climate change in Ecuador and Morocco through ethnogeological studies of Diné (Navajo) and other Indigenous knowledge of Earth systems and processes.

With reference to ancient documents and stories, panelists posed interdisciplinary questions to the audience to break through artificial barriers between the arts, social sciences/humanities and the sciences.

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Understanding climate and energy through environmental humanities

LightWorks News Environmental Humanities

May 18, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11 52 44 AMEnvironmental humanities is a rapidly growing field focused on the study of human imagination, perception, behaviors and the relationship with their surrounding environments, both social and natural. Arizona State University humanist research is led by sustainability scholar Dr. Joni Adamson. Her research defines how and why, in the face of seemingly non-imminent danger, humans choose to act as they do and what would make them shift direction rapidly.

This approach is being integrated into all climate and energy research at ASU. This work will contribute substantially to the understanding of human behaviors, motivations, and decision-making, both individually and collaboratively. This research aims to catalyze the rapid social transitions needed to address global energy transitions and climate change.

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How ‘Cli-Fi’ Promotes Sustainable Awareness

LightWorks News Environmental Humanities

April 28, 2015

Clifi1Can a story trigger social movement? What is the role of imagination in society’s’ response to climate change? On April 2, ASU‘s Manjana Milkoreit moderated a panel event sponsored by ASU’s Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative (ICF) titled “Climate Fiction: Science, Stories, or Seeds of Transformation”. The panelists included LightWorks affiliates Joni Adamson, Sydney Lines, and Clark Miller, who examined the roots of the emerging “cli-fi” literary genre and its impact beyond simply telling stories.

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Connecting the Humanities and Sustainability: An Interview with Joni Adamson

LightWorks News Environmental Humanities

February 17, 2015

HumanitiesJoni1Joni Adamson likes to call herself a “Jill of all trades.” Adamson, a professor of English and Environmental Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and a Senior Sustainability Scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU, has developed an impressive repertoire of research interests including but not limited to: environmental humanities, environmental literature and film, Sonoran Desert ecosystems and cultures, global indigenous studies, food sovereignty, and critical plant studies.

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