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The Renaissance of the Earth

MISSION: The Renaissance of the Earth revolutionizes what it means to engage the early modern past with questions about our environmental future. Through a range of cross-disciplinary collaborative models, it puts students, artists, and scholars at the center of an interdisciplinary research mandate with the goal of discovering diverse avenues for creating sustainable and equitable life.

VISION: The Renaissance of the Earth is a series of interdisciplinary research collaborations, undergraduate and graduate courses, hands-on workshops, conferences, and arts programming that consider how legacies of the early modern past inform our environmental future. Crucially, we are committed to exploring those connections that present us with the most challenging legacies: extractive colonialism, racism, forced human migration, and the asymmetries of environmental devastation around the globe.


Artist in Residence
April - September 2023 | Apocalypse: Science & Myth

Suzette Martin


November 2022 - March 2023 | Foraged: Kitchen Garden Herbaria

Madge Evers


June - September 2022 | Mapping Terroir: Memory & Myth
Andrea Caluori – Inside UMass News Story here & Daily Hampshire Gazette Feature here


Folger Institute: Introduction to English Paleography

This weeklong course provides an intensive introduction to handwriting in early modern England, with a particular emphasis on the English secretary hand of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The course will highlight the strengths of our rare book collection and materials related to The Renaissance of the Earth. This program will be offered June 5-9, 2023. Find more information here.
Course Director: Dr. Heather Wolfe, Curator of Manuscripts and Archivist, Folger Shakespeare Library


Grounded Knowledge: Workshop Series
Grounded Knowledge is inspired by the desire to link hands-on practice with literary and historical knowledge production. Workshops bring together local artists, farmers, herbalists, and chefs with students and scholars to explore connections between our gardens and rare book collection, including: agricultural treatises, gardening manuals, early modern literature, and early earth science writing. Upcoming workshops include a focus on: seed stories in global landscapes, women’s production of herbal remedies and medical knowledge, fermented fruits and cider making, and distillation: pigments, perfumes, and syrups.

September 24, 2022: Terroir
Andrea Caluori, Artist in Residence and Dr. Elsa Petit, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, UMass

October 17, 2020: Preservation (Virtual Workshop)
Matt Kaminsky, Gnarly  Pippins and Dr. Marissa Nicosia, Cooking in the Archives 

August 1, 2020: Bees, Pollination, & Honey (Virtual Workshop)
Jade Alicandro Mace, Milk & Honey Herbs and Dr. Haylie Swenson, Folger Shakespeare Library. — Inside UMass News Story here

Sustainability Initiatives
SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY WORKING GROUP (SES): The cross-campus Sustainability Strategy Working Group (SSWG) was formed under the direction of Provost Serio in the fall of 2022 to help develop a unifying vision of sustainability research, education, and engagement for UMass.  This working group includes more than 30 faculty members from across all nine academic colleges, with UMass Libraries and the Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (CAFE) also represented.  The working group is transdisciplinary in nature and collaborative in practice.  SSWG is building on the previous work of earlier sustainability working groups related to academics. For more information on SSWG, click here.

SUSTAINABLE LIVING: SOLUTIONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY (NRC185 Spring 2023 with Lena Fletcher, Lecturer): Students will work in teams to research and develop solutions to the sustainable challenges facing our society. They will collaborate to investigate, critically evaluate, effectively communicate, and reflect on the multifaceted challenges associated with addressing sustainable resource use, water, food, energy, transportation, waste management, and climate change. Students will also work in teams during class on exercises in which they research case studies, debate controversies, assess political and cultural contexts, and identify technological advances and barriers, gaps in scientific knowledge, and opportunities for change in the 21st century.

For a complete list of our campus and community-wide collaborators, click here.

Course Offerings
Please click here for a list of Renaissance of the Earth course offerings.

Renaissance of the Earth Undergraduate Fellowships and Workstudy Positions
We accept applications for Undergraduate Fellows annually and Workstudy runs throughout the academic year.

Environmental Leadership
A team of undergraduate researchers enrolled in Intro to Natural Research Conservation identified species of plants growing on the Center's land.

Dirty Research
This project, funded through a University Sustainability, Innovation, and Engagement Fund Grant, reinvents the Renaissance Kitchen Garden and Apple Orchards, transforming them into a hub for researchers, students, and community members. The project provides especially rich pedagogical and research opportunities that encourage visitors to consider the connections between our gardens and the strengths of our rare book collection, including: agricultural treatises, gardening manuals, early modern literature, and early earth science writing.
Project Director: Liz Fox, PhD — Inside UMass News Story here

Renaissance Kitchen Garden and Apple Orchard
The Center’s grounds include a historically-authentic kitchen garden that provides rich opportunities for interdisciplinary research and experiential learning endeavors.

The Players Project 
Noah Tuleja, Director of the Mount Holyoke Rooke Theater, is in residence with a small cross-campus company of actors whose home is the Kinney Center and its outdoor stage. In conjunction with The Renaissance of the Earth, The Players Project launched its first season of workshops with a reading of “The Herbal Bed” by Peter Whelan.


Rare book collection
By collecting in targeted fields (natural history, agricultural history, botanicals, early earth science, cosmographies, and literature of the earth), the collection drives research in ways that link the research, educational, and creative programming on offer at the Center. 


Rare book exhibits


Graduate Conferences 
Please visit here for more information on our graduate conferences.