Solutions to environmental issues such as climate change, toxic waste, deforestation and species extinction, have been mainly framed as scientific, technological and economic problems. The slow progress of dealing with these issues has made us realise that science and technology do not have all the answers. Increasingly the humanities are called upon to provide perspectives on the environment and natural world that includes humans and human cultures. In response the environmental humanities have emerged as a new research arena that aims at infusing a humanities perspective into complex issues surrounding environmental problems and questions of the place of humans in the environment itself and of what the human actually is.
In this edition of the podcast Thom Van Dooren, Senior Lecturer in the Environmental Humanities at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, explores what the environmental humanities are and why it has so rapidly emerged in recent years. Thom’s current work focuses on the philosophical and ethical dimensions of species extinctions. In the second half of the podcast Thom discusses his work on the Hawaiian Crow or Alalâ, which is extinct in the wild, and how this research connects the humanities with ecology, biology, and ethology.
Sites mentioned in the podcast & relevant links
Blog by Thom Vandooren
Environmental Humanities at the University of New South Wales
Journal Environmental Humanities
Environmental Humanities Now
Thom Vandooren, “Science can’t do it alone: the environment needs humanities too“, The Conversation, 2 October 2012.
Jennifer Hamilton, “Explainer: what are the environmental humanities?“, The Conversation, 3 December 2013.
“Where You Are Now” by Zapac, available from ccMixter
“Ch’i Burger” by panu, available from ccMixter
“Extinct” by unreal_dm with vocals by Kara Square, available from ccMixter