Environmental Humanities Center


Faculty of Humanities, VU University Amsterdam

Environmental Humanities Center

Libby Robin

For more information on our events and (free) registration for the launch, lecture and our newsletter, please visit http://environmentalhumanitiescenter.com.

CLUE+ Research Institute for Culture, History and Heritage

Art, Culture and History


Environmental Humanities Center – upcoming events

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Climate change, sustainability, animal rights: the humanities possess key tools to approach these issues. The growing field of the environmental humanities is grounded in the realization that today’s environmental crisis calls for an interdisciplinary approach. Aiming to foster a broad exchange of ideas, the new Environmental Humanities Center at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam brings together students and scholars from the humanities with the natural and social sciences as well as the general public.

The new center, ran by Sjoerd Kluiving, Kristine Steenbergh, Petra van Dam, and Katja Kwastek, and MA student Julia Kantelberg, will be launched with a keynote lecture by Libby Robin on 4 November. In the coming academic year, we will be hosting a series of events on key issues in the environmental humanities. Intended as an introduction to the field, these Friday lectures are open to all – please invite interested students, colleagues, friends or family to join you. Save the dates in your diary! If you would like to be kept updated on our activities, please register for our mailing list with k.steenbergh@vu.nl.

Libby Robin: Environmental Humanities in practice

4 November 2016, 15.30-17.30hrs (incl. reception)

Faculty of Humanities, VU University Amsterdam

The Environmental Humanities (EH) is a focus for collaborative projects between the humanities disciplines emerging in different forms in universities all over the world. Environmental ensures that EH engages with big global issues, including global climate change, energy transitions and the idea of the Anthropocene (the proposed geological epoch sometimes called the Age of Humans). Humanities shapes the ‘practice’, which can be profoundly local, ‘bottom up’, and inclusive. Literature, philosophy, history and cultural studies all bring theoretical perspectives to this project, but the practice demands an eclectic approach that enables partnerships with the broader public, as well as formally trained humanities scholars.

Drawing on personal experience in Australia, Sweden, Germany and the UK, Libby Robin will consider the ways that EH works in practice in particular places. EH can enable collaborations between Universities and their communities, greening and knitting together scholars and the

public through practical exercises reflecting on global change. Partnerships with museums, with artists, with natural scientists and with policy-makers can emerge as EH builds on many different sorts of collaboration, depending on the interests of its hub of practitioners and the local issues that engage them.

Libby Robin’s newest book is Curating the Future: Museums, Communities and Climate Change (Routledge 2017, 298pp), a collaboration that created the Museums and Climate Change Network (http://www.amnh.org/our- research/anthropology/projects/museums-and-climate-change- network). She is Professor in the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra, and affiliated professor at Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, in the KTH Environmental Humanities Lab and the National Museum of Australia.

Friday 21 April 2017, 15.30-17.30hrs

Environmental Humanities & Climate Change

Climate Change Event

In cooperation with the Simon Stevin Center, this event explores climate change from a humanities perspective. Silvia De Bianchi (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) discusses eighteenth-century philosophical views of climate in her lecture "Understanding and Controlling Climate: The development of climatology and its importance for philosophy in the 18th century.”

Tuesday 2 May: Lecture by Erle Ellis

In cooperation with the Faculty of Earth and Life Science, we are organizing a lecture by environmental scientist Erle Ellis (Maryland University, USA): From Pleistocene to Anthropocene: Why Humans Transformed Earth and Climate.

Humans have profoundly transformed Earth’s biosphere and climate. To understand why humans gained this unprecedented capacity to transform an entire planet requires a deeper evolutionary understanding of human social processes and their reshaping of ecology. By engaging with these evolutionary processes and the economies of scale offered by an increasingly global human system, it may yet be possible to shape a better future for both humanity and non-human nature in the Anthropocene.

Erle Ellis is an environmental scientist and professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a leading theorist of what scientists are increasingly describing as the Anthropocene, the age of humans. Ellis has described the extent of humankind’s impact on the planet, from extinctions and massive landscape changes caused by hunter-gatherers to the trend of growing agricultural productivity in response to population pressures.


Friday 2 June 2017, 15.30-17.30hrs

Environmental Humanities & Non-Human Animals

For more information on our events and (free) registration for the launch, lecture and our newsletter, please visit http://environmentalhumanitiescenter.com.