Environmental Humanities

What are Environmental Humanities?

“Environmental Humanities” is a way of looking at how humans and the natural world are connected. Imagine it as a field where different subjects like history, philosophy, literature, and art come together. These subjects focus on our interactions with the environment. In a simple sense, Environmental Humanities is about understanding nature through the lens of human thoughts, cultures, and emotions rather than just through scientific facts.

Another definition could be finding balance and learning from nature using human creativity and emotions. This means not just knowing about nature’s physical aspects but also understanding the relationships, the stories, and the emotional connections we have with the world around us. It teaches us about the impact we have on nature and the impact nature has on us. Like when you get to know a friend, you learn more from their stories and dreams than just their appearance. Environmental Humanities allows us to form a relationship with nature in a similar way.

Therefore, Environmental Humanities delves into the deeper meanings behind our existence alongside nature. It invites us to consider how our history, beliefs, art, and actions are intertwined with the world around us. It’s about embracing a full-picture perspective on our place in the natural world.

How to Explore Environmental Humanities

To explore Environmental Humanities, you don’t need special equipment or a science lab. What you need is curiosity and an open mind. Here are some ways to dive in:

  1. Read books, fiction and non-fiction, where humans and nature play important roles.
  2. Watch movies and documentaries that show different human relationships with the environment.
  3. Examine historical events that have significantly impacted nature and how we live with it.
  4. Engage in discussions on critical issues like climate change or animal welfare.
  5. Create art or write about how you see and feel about the natural world.

By following these suggestions, you’ll begin to see the multitude of ways humans interact with our planet. This isn’t just about finding facts. It’s about building a bridge between our human experiences and the environment.

Examples of Environmental Humanities

Here are a few examples to give a clearer picture of what Environmental Humanities is about, and why they’re such good examples:

  • Literature: “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss demonstrates the power of storytelling to inspire care for the environment. Through its narrative, it conveys urgent messages about the need for conservation and the consequences our actions can have on nature.
  • Philosophy: Henry David Thoreau’s book “Walden” explores the idea of living in harmony with nature. He encourages readers to reflect on the modern lifestyle and consider the benefits of simplifying our lives to lessen our impact on the environment.
  • Movies: “Avatar” captivates audiences with a tale of protecting the natural world and respecting indigenous territories. The movie illustrates that every environment has intrinsic worth and highlights the destructiveness of unchecked human expansion.

These examples show how various forms of human expression can invoke thoughts and conversations about our relationship with the natural world, helping us see the value of every living being and ecosystem.

Why is Environmental Humanities Important?

Environmental Humanities is crucial because it goes beyond scientific data to question and understand the root of environmental issues. It helps us to examine more than just how pollution happens or why species go extinct. It encourages us to think about the cultural and emotional reasons behind our actions and their consequences on Earth. By appreciating humanities, we gain insights into how our values and behaviors contribute to environmental problems and, in turn, how we can develop solutions that are mindful and considerate of all life forms.

This understanding is essential for everyone, not just scholars or environmentalists. The average person’s daily decisions, from what we buy to how we travel, affect the environment. By adopting a more humanities-focused perspective, we can make changes in our lives that show care and consideration for the natural world. Stories, philosophies, and ethical dialogues can inspire us to live in a way that is sustainable, just, and respectful of our planet’s precious resources.

The Origin of Environmental Humanities

Environmental Humanities as a recognized field of study started to blossom from the late 20th century to the early 2000s. Scholars recognized that, while science is vital in addressing environmental issues, it doesn’t encompass all aspects of human interaction with nature. People began to see the importance of integrating histories, stories, art, and diverse cultural perspectives to fully confront our environmental challenges and find solutions for a more sustainable future.

Controversies in Environmental Humanities

As with any emerging field, there are different views and debates within Environmental Humanities. Some fear that a strong focus on subjective narratives and art may distract from the objective scientific evidence needed to address environmental problems. Others argue that science alone is insufficient and that human stories and artistic expressions are essential to grasp the emotional and ethical dimensions of our relationship with the planet. Debates also persist on whether systemic changes or individual actions are more effective in achieving significant environmental improvements.

Environmental Humanities in Our Lives

Environmental Humanities is not just a subject for academics; it’s present in our everyday choices and actions. Every time we make a decision that reflects our respect for the planet—such as recycling, using public transportation, conserving energy at home, and supporting sustainable products—we’re embodying the principles of Environmental Humanities. These actions may seem small individually, but collectively, they demonstrate a commitment to care for and protect our Earth.

Related Topics With Explanations

Many related topics help magnify our understanding of how we interact with nature and can expand on the principles of Environmental Humanities:

  • Ecocriticism: This studies how literature can influence our perception and treatment of the environment, often critiquing works for their ecological implications or celebrating them for their conservation messages.
  • Conservation Psychology: This examines why some people act in eco-friendly ways and others don’t, looking to understand and change human behavior to benefit the environment.
  • Sustainability Studies: These teach us to use Earth’s resources wisely so they can last into the future, encouraging practices that do not harm our planet.
  • Ecofeminism: This highlights the connection between ecological concerns and feminist issues, arguing that environmental damage often disproportionately affects women and that they can be leaders in healing our planet.
  • Environmental History: Studying past interactions between humans and nature can inform how we handle current environmental issues and help us make better decisions going forward.


To summarize, Environmental Humanities offer a rich and complex view of how we as humans connect with our planet. It combines the insights of storytelling, cultural studies, ethical reflections, and artistic expressions to present a comprehensive understanding of our interactions with nature. It emphasizes that caring for our world is more than a scientific endeavor; it’s a deeply human one, influenced by our collective values, cultures, and individual choices. Remember, every thought, conversation, and action that shows our bond with the Earth is a step towards living the essence of Environmental Humanities. This approach not only enriches our view of the environment but can also inspire responsible and thoughtful actions aimed at conserving our shared planet for generations to come.