The Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative aims to create a common platform for academic researchers, cultural practitioners and ecological activists working at the intersection between scientific and humanities-based approaches to the environment. It responds to the demand in the Anthropocene for new intellectual and cultural approaches that combine a natural and social-scientific understanding of Earth systems with the knowledge and values of the arts and humanities. It aims to foster research into the relationship between nature and culture, critical transformations in environment and society, as well as the theoretical and practical implications of anthropogenic changes to the ecology of the planet. Towards this aim, it also invites various perspectives from the human and non-human inhabitants of the margins of the new geological age, in conversation with feminist, postcolonial and posthuman studies. This initiative highlights the vital role of those working in the fields of arts and culture, including artists, curators, film makers, architects, writers and theorists, in forging critical alliances and creatively negotiating environmental issues.
- To combine the methods and theories of the humanities with insights from the scientific study of the environment in order to address pressing social and ecological issues.
- To explore humanity's changing relationship to the environment through the diverse perspectives offered by artists, writers, filmmakers and other cultural producers.
- To open up new interdisciplinary research opportunities for the academic community of CEU to contribute to the expanding field of environmental humanities.
- To promote theoretical and artistic interventions in contemporary debates over the Anthropocene and explore its creative potential in addressing planetary concerns.
- To examine the coalescence of the concerns of environmental humanities with those of feminist, queer and postcolonial studies.
- To investigate the far reaching implications of new models of earth jurisprudence enshrining the rights of non-human species and the natural world in laws and constitutions.
- To highlight the insights of non-scientific approaches to the environment found in both arts and humanities and the ecological worldviews of indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups.
This endeavour reflects on the one hand the opening up of environmental natural and social sciences to the ecological insights offered by the arts and humanities. It also responds to the realisation across the humanities that it is no longer feasible to ignore the ecological factor, both in terms of the importance of the environmental dimension to subjects from art history to gender studies and anthropology, as well as in light of the implications of acute ecological crisis for current research questions and methodologies. The discussion that originated with geologists around the idea that we are now living in the age of the Anthropocene, according to which humans have become geological agents with the power to alter the most basic physical processes of the earth, heralds a significant paradigm shift. Research in the environmental humanities addresses the notion that, in the wake of anthropogenic climate change, human history should be seen not in isolation from natural history, but as part of the wider history of life on the planet.