KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory (Sweden)

Posted by on Apr 19, 2014
KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory (Sweden)

CENHS is pleased to feature the environmental humanities laboratory at the Royal Institute for Science and Technology in Sweden.

As described by its website, the overall goal of the EHL is to shape a post-disciplinary intellectual environment that combines education, research and graduate training in innovative ways and sets knowledge in the humanities into action to favour sustainable development. The educational programme aims to train a new generation of historians and others to become capable, integrated environmental humanists.


Environing Technologies:  Research Tracks

Research in the Laboratory combines various strands of the humanities, including anthropological, aesthetic, literary, architectural, spatial, archaeological, technological, etcetera, all informed by historical approaches. It is fundamental research conducted in a post-disciplinary spirit aimed at providing new knowledge of relevance for human understanding of the world as well as for sustainable development.

The research is organized in experimental forms, combining a set of Research Tracks under the title ‘Environing Technologies’ with individual research projects and workshops. A basic feature of Environing Technologies is the idea that the environment is a historical formation by people and societies which shape their surroundings and themselves through time and thereby use knowledge, technology, and aesthetics. In the Environmental Humanities Laboratory it is the environment as described, perceived, monitored, represented, documented, etcetera, that we have put at centre stage. The actual environmental changes brought by human environing ‘out there’ remain essential and exchange is necessary with scholars and scientists that specialize in the study of that change.The Research Tracks are wide categories that should be seen as open arenas for interaction of scholars with similar interests, including PhD students. The four Research Tracks below reflect both current interests of scholars affiliated with the Laboratory and the Division and emerging areas of interest. These Tracks may expand, change or merge as the Laboratory moves on.


Track 1: Writing Exploring scripture and sign based documentation as means of communicating knowledge and meaning in genres ranging from novels and poetry to non-fiction writing, journalism, and scientific literature from the field, the laboratory, the studio, the museum, and other sites of writing the environment.


Track 2: SeeingExploring visual technologies, including instruments, models and representations, as a means of documenting, shaping and formatting images, photography, film, and digital media and how they are used in the framing and understanding of nature and environment.


Track 3: SensingExploring the experiences of environing – how societies, groups, and individuals have encountered nature with their bodies, stationary, traveling, or migrating, and how the senses have become part of the understanding of environment.


Track 4: ShapingExploring the quest to design and shape the surrounding world into structures and forms which can make the world livable and sustainable and aesthetically pleasing, but which can also destruct and dehumanize nature and environment.




Training professionals as well as academic scientists and scholars in the environmental humanities is crucial to spread and apply the knowledge needed to face issues of sustainability and global challenges. It is also an essential tool in the ongoing transformation of the humanities.

The Laboratory will perform education on all levels.Undergraduate education in the Laboratory reflects the new knowledge that is derived from research in the Laboratory.  Courses will be integrated in the total offering from the Division and can be combined to a well rounded training in the history of science, technology, environment and related fields. Undergraduate students will be invited to work in close contact with research. Our undergraduate courses also seek to:

  • Assist in building new integrated programs at the undergraduate and masters level
  • Be of relevance for students interested in environmental humanities in all universities
  • Integrate elements from the humanities in KTH technology programs

PhD education is an integrated part of both research and teaching in the Laboratory. PhD students, who are enrolled in the Division’s PhD program ”Historical Studies of Science, Technology, and Environment” participate in research projects and work closely with supervisors and research track leaders. The PhD students pursue their work within one of several Research Tracks which in turn build on the concept of Environing Technologies – that the environment is a historical formation by people and societies which form their surroundings and themselves and thereby use knowledge, technology, and aesthetics (seeResearch). [read more on environing in: S. Sörlin & P. Warde, ”Making the environment historical – an introduction”, in Nature’s End: History and the Environment, eds. Warde & Sörlin (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009), pp.1-19.]