The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Undergraduate

Environmental Humanities

Environmental Humanities (EH) 

With climate change becoming a pervasive force in our daily lives, environmental activists around the world turn to stories, essays, poems, and manifestos for guidance and inspiration. As courses in this specialization variously show, the challenges of climate change extend beyond the natural sciences to include humanistic inquiry into the ways humans might re-imagine the natural world and their place in it.

What is Environmental Humanities?

Environmental Humanities scholarship responds to the long history of environmental exploitation of colonized peoples, and the economic, ecological, racial, and gendered dimensions of such exploitation. It is equally interested in understanding current resource wars, food shortages, the rise of epidemics, the importance of multispecies imaginaries, and the place of nation-state politics at a time of climate breakdown. It argues that to better understand and respond to the climate crisis scientific and humanities perspectives are equally crucial. Students who earn this specialization will have a comprehensive understanding of the roles of capital, culture, and politics at a time of rapid climate change. They will engage with literature and other arts from across the globe, and also gain some understanding of ecological concepts. 

Requirements (3 courses)

To earn this specialization students must complete: 

I.    205 Introduction to Postcolonial Studies

II.    One of the following:

  • 365 The Literature of Ireland: Nature and Culture
  • 372 Caribbean Literature: The Sea is History

III.    Special Topics Seminar: 

  • 492N and 492N (H): Nature, Climate Change and Literature

A 300 or higher level course that directly engages with environmental themes may count as a substitute. Students will need to get a written approval for such substitutions. Please email Malcolm Sen at msen@umass.edu with information on the course for such substitutions.

For more about this exciting area of research please see: 
https://blogs.umass.edu/envhum/

For further information, contact the Director of the Environmental Humanities specialization, Malcolm Sen, E449 South College, msen@umass.edu.