New Env. Humanities Program at the U of New South Wales

Posted by on Oct 8, 2014
New Env. Humanities Program at the U of New South Wales

This new program for a growing field offers the MPhil., PhD, and a postdoctoral fellowship. You can read more about it here.

From the website:

The environmental humanities is the term for a dynamic and growing field in universities across the world, one promoting interdisciplinary scholarship that explores how we understand the relations between humans and the environment in all areas of cultural production. Ranging from scientific modelling to government policy, from social justice movements to the creative arts, it examines questions of sustainability, human wellbeing and the environment in their broadest sense.  In a 21st-century context of increasing pressure on the biosphere, the environmental humanities provide a vital intellectual space that enables researchers, students, artists, writers, scientists, policy-makers and practitioners to reflect critically on the concepts that underlie contemporary environmentalism, as well as broader social imaginings of ‘the natural’.

What do we mean when we speak of ‘the environment’? Whose environment, and who gets to speak? What propositions about ‘the natural’ and ‘the human’ undergird scientific advice on governance and management of the commons? ‘Sustainability’, ‘development’, ‘conservation’ – these are all terms that we hear daily, yet they are often used uncritically, or in specific, contested ways. What different ‘cultures of nature’ can we discern in a postcolonial setting like Cape Town, a place that opens onto highly contested terrains, both physical and intellectual? ‘Indigenous’ biodiversity set against botanical ‘invaders’ on the slopes of the Table Mountain National Park; constitutional rights to water and its complex social circuits through the ‘human settlements’ of greater Cape Town; predator ‘management’ in the farming districts of the Boland; debates over fracking in the Karoo thirstland; the state policing of Cape fisheries – these flashpoints call for new ways of imagining the relations between state, science, ecologies and publics.

Positioned in this distinctive, dynamic and contested environment, we envision a graduate programme at the University of Cape Town that would gather people from across the campus and allow them to begin conversations they would not otherwise have. At a time when larger debates often remain stuck in a polemical opposition between ‘development’ and ‘the environment’, this programme would offer a space in which to reimagine and reconfigure the terms of such exchanges. By bringing different methodologies and disciplines into dialogue, it would facilitate the emergence of richer conceptual tools, and allow the University of Cape Town to intervene in public deliberations about the environment with the requisite sensitivity and subtlety.

Much is already in place and latent within the university: exisiting courses across five faculties; a wide range of research clusters; international collaborations and connections; UCT’s strategic initiative in African Climate Change and Development (ACDI). We believe that the time is now right to draw these together, by establishing an MPhil in the Environmental Humanities that will attract a wide range of applicants, and become an internationally renowned graduate programme. – See more at: