Special Issue "Humanities for the Environment"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 August 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Poul Holm

Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +353876188039
Interests: humanities; environmental history
Guest Editor
Dr. Ruth Brennan

Post-Doc, School of Histories and Humanities, Centre for Environmental Humanities, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Transformations in social-ecological systems; Social, historical, political and cultural influences shaping environment-society relationships; Ecosystem approach to management of social-ecological systems; Environmental governance, marine policy and social justice

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Human preferences, practices and actions are the main drivers of planetary change in the 21st century. The Special Issue invites papers that review ways in which the humanistic disciplines may help us understand and engage with global environmental problems. The issue will define how, to what extent and by which means humanities scholarship and practice may help further pro-environmental behavior. The issue will contribute to the fast growing literature on environmental humanities by specifically addressing issues of humanities interventions in global change research, policy, and action. It will highlight “environmental humanities in action” by focussing on the contributions environmental humanities have made to address real-world problems. Thus, the issue is not about demonstrating that the humanities are ‘useful’, but to determine their scope and how they can contribute to resolving current societal challenges. Papers are invited to reflect on the current and potential role of humanities scholarship in international, national, and local contexts of practice. Can the humanities—integrating perspectives from history, literature, philosophy, arts, psychology, sociology and other fields—produce new modes of knowledge necessary to guide global and local decision-makers? What motivates human action? Can we learn from how humans have perceived, adapted to, and engaged with challenges such as tobacco use, pesticides, chloro-fluoro-carbon (CFC) gasses, HIV/AIDS? Can answers to such questions not only enrich our understanding of the human past but also inform pathways to climate mitigation in the future? A wider contextualization of the issue may be found in the paper Humanities for the Environment—A Manifesto for Research and Action, Humanities 2015, 4(4), 977-992; doi: 10.3390/h4040977.

Prof. Dr. Poul Holm
Dr. Ruth Brennan
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Humanities
  • environment
  • global change
  • policy
  • action

Published Papers (10 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-10
Export citation of selected articles as:

Editorial

Jump to: Research

Open AccessEditorial Humanities for the Environment 2018 Report—Ways to Here, Ways Forward
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010003
Received: 2 January 2018 / Revised: 2 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 January 2018 / Published: 5 January 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (214 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We introduce the Humanities for the Environment (HfE) 2018 Report. The HfE 2018 Report consists of two publications; of which this Special Issue is one. The other is a special section of the journal Global and Planetary Change 156 (2017); 112–175. While
[...] Read more.
We introduce the Humanities for the Environment (HfE) 2018 Report. The HfE 2018 Report consists of two publications; of which this Special Issue is one. The other is a special section of the journal Global and Planetary Change 156 (2017); 112–175. While the Humanities special issue may primarily reach our colleagues in the humanities disciplines; the Global and Planetary Change section reaches out to that journal’s primary readership of earth scientists. The HfE 2018 Report provides examples of how humanities research reveals and influences human capacity to perceive and cope with environmental change. We hope that the HFE 2018 Report will help change perceptions of what it is we do as humanities scholars. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Nuclear Avenue: “Cyclonic Development”, Abandonment, and Relations in Uranium City, Canada
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010005
Received: 30 August 2017 / Revised: 15 December 2017 / Accepted: 2 January 2018 / Published: 6 January 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (11841 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The rise and abandonment of Uranium City constitutes an environmental history yet to be fully evaluated by humanities scholars. 1982 marks the withdrawal of the Eldorado Corporation from the town and the shuttering of its uranium mines. The population declined to approximately 50
[...] Read more.
The rise and abandonment of Uranium City constitutes an environmental history yet to be fully evaluated by humanities scholars. 1982 marks the withdrawal of the Eldorado Corporation from the town and the shuttering of its uranium mines. The population declined to approximately 50 from its pre-1982 population of about 4000. This article is inspired by findings from the authors’ initial field visit. As Uranium City is accessible only by air or by winter roads across Lake Athabasca, the goal of the visit in May 2017 was to gather information and questions through photographic assessment and through communication and interviews with residents. This paper in part argues that the cyclonic development metaphor used to describe single-commodity communities naturalizes environmental damage and obscures a more complicated history involving human agency. Apart from the former mines that garner remedial funding and action, the town site of Uranium City is also of environmental concern. Its derelict suburbs and landfill, we also argue, could benefit from assessment, funding, and remediation. Canada’s 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report provides a way forward in healing this region, in part by listening to the voices of those most affected by environmental impacts caused not by a metaphorical cyclone but by other humans’ decisions. As descendants of European immigrants to Turtle Island (the Indigenous term referring to North America), the authors are also subjects of the very terms—cyclonic development, abandonment, remediation—used to describe the history of the land itself: in this case, a mining town in the far northern boreal forests and Precambrian Shield. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Religion and the Environment: Twenty-First Century American Evangelicalism and the Anthropocene
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040092
Received: 30 August 2017 / Revised: 25 October 2017 / Accepted: 30 October 2017 / Published: 16 November 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (228 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper provides an overview of the emergence of religion and the environment as an area of academic research and an assessment of the potential role religion can play in addressing anthropogenic climate change. Focusing on the United States of America the study
[...] Read more.
This paper provides an overview of the emergence of religion and the environment as an area of academic research and an assessment of the potential role religion can play in addressing anthropogenic climate change. Focusing on the United States of America the study traces the dynamics of anthropogenic climate change denial and offers an overview of the complex and far-reaching evangelical endeavours that seek to limit solutions and approaches to address global change issues. While much research has explored the positive role religion can play in addressing climate change, little research explores the lengths to which American evangelicals have sought to stymie climate change activism within their ranks and the potential political impact of their endeavours. As such the paper fits neatly with the theme of “Humanities for the Environment” special edition and has the capacity to contribute new insights on the impact of religion and the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Connecting Environmental Humanities: Developing Interdisciplinary Collaborative Method
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040091
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 9 November 2017 / Accepted: 11 November 2017 / Published: 15 November 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (261 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is now a consensus that the potential contribution of the humanities to wider environmental debate is significant, although how to develop it effectively is still unclear. This paper therefore focusses on realizing the potential of the environmental humanities through building interdisciplinary collaboration.
[...] Read more.
There is now a consensus that the potential contribution of the humanities to wider environmental debate is significant, although how to develop it effectively is still unclear. This paper therefore focusses on realizing the potential of the environmental humanities through building interdisciplinary collaboration. A four-stage research model is outlined for areas where there is limited humanities scholarship, based on ongoing experience of the humanities in action in the Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Network in the Arts and Humanities, Connecting with a low-carbon Scotland. The model has two key objectives: (1) to enable humanities disciplines to articulate their own contributions to pre-identified environmental research issues; and (2) to develop interdisciplinary humanities collaboration on these issues. It can be adapted to develop understanding in local, national and international contexts, depending on the number of scholars involved and the available resources. The knowledge which emerges can facilitate further interdisciplinary working between the humanities, STEM subjects and social sciences, and be of value to environmental policy-makers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Learning from Loss: Eroding Coastal Heritage in Scotland
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040087
Received: 29 August 2017 / Revised: 31 October 2017 / Accepted: 2 November 2017 / Published: 9 November 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (7176 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Heritage sites are constantly changing due to natural processes, and this change can happen fastest at the coast. Much legislation has been enacted to protect sites of historic interest, but these do not protect sites from natural processes. Change is already happening, and
[...] Read more.
Heritage sites are constantly changing due to natural processes, and this change can happen fastest at the coast. Much legislation has been enacted to protect sites of historic interest, but these do not protect sites from natural processes. Change is already happening, and climate change predictions suggest that the pace will accelerate in the future. Instead of seeing the potential destruction of heritage sites as a disaster, we should embrace the opportunity that they can provide for us to learn about the past and to plan for the future. Heritage laws often enshrine a policy of preservation in situ, meaning that our most spectacular sites are preserved in a state of equilibrium, with a default position of no permitted intervention. However, the options for threatened coastal sites mirror those of shoreline management plans, which usually recommend either the construction of a coastal defence or, more likely, a strategy of managed retreat, where erosion is allowed to take its course after appropriate mitigations strategies have been enacted. Managed retreat can lead to a range of research projects, some of which would not normally be possible at similar, unthreatened and legally protected monuments. Such research also has the potential to involve members of the public, who can help in the discovery process, and cascade what they have learned through their communities. Information shared can be about the heritage site itself, including how communities in the past coped at times of climatic stress; and also about the processes that are now threatening the monument, thus helping teach about present day climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Transformative Environmental Constitutionalism’s Response to the Setting Aside of South Africa’s Moratorium on Rhino Horn Trade
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040084
Received: 7 September 2017 / Revised: 4 November 2017 / Accepted: 5 November 2017 / Published: 7 November 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (235 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
South Africa’s rhino population is under threat of extinction due to poaching for purposes of illegal international trade of rhino horn. The South African government has thus far been unable to regulate rhino poaching effectively. One of the legal responses was to introduce
[...] Read more.
South Africa’s rhino population is under threat of extinction due to poaching for purposes of illegal international trade of rhino horn. The South African government has thus far been unable to regulate rhino poaching effectively. One of the legal responses was to introduce a moratorium on local trade of rhino horn. However, in 2015 the High Court set aside the moratorium. Subsequent appeals against the High Court’s decision to the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court were dismissed without a hearing. The anthropocentric approach to the protection of biodiversity under South African environmental law is reflected upon in this article. It is argued that the High Court adopted an unapologetic and uncritical anthropocentric approach to the issues before it. A legal theory of transformative environmental constitutionalism is proposed as a means to infuse litigation about global environmental problems with substantive environmental considerations, such as precaution, prevention and equity. These principles could facilitate a more ecocentric orientation towards the application of environmental laws. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Societal, Policy and Academic ‘Visions’ for the Future of the Marine Environment and Its Management, Exemplified in the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040081
Received: 16 August 2017 / Revised: 10 October 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 1 November 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3147 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Interactions between environmental and social change are complex and require deep insights into human perceptions, values, motivations and choices. Humanities disciplines can bring these insights to the study of marine social–ecological systems in the context of global environmental challenges. Such systems can be
[...] Read more.
Interactions between environmental and social change are complex and require deep insights into human perceptions, values, motivations and choices. Humanities disciplines can bring these insights to the study of marine social–ecological systems in the context of global environmental challenges. Such systems can be defined on a range of scales, but the cases most easily studied include those of small islands and their communities. This paper presents findings from three studies in the Western and Northern isles of Scotland, concentrating on some of the processes involved in social sustainability that contribute on the one hand to protecting what a community has, and on the other hand allowing a community to evolve so as to adapt to new conditions. It relates the several sorts of transformations involved, to the role and impact of external institutions such as those of governance of the natural environment, the energy market, and academic research, which together make up the environment of the transformation. By examining the world-views of different groups of actors, this paper illustrates that an understanding of the mental constructs underlying these world-views can help marine governance through integrating different ways of knowing. This paper identifies where it would be useful to employ a transdisciplinary ‘translator’ or a ‘space’ for dialogue in order to capture the diverse ‘visions’ and perceptions that these groups have in relation to management of the marine environment, where there are synergies and where more should to be done to negotiate between competing values and needs. It illustrates the practical contributions to operational policy that can emerge through challenging the dominant management discourses for the marine environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Figures

Figure 1a

Open AccessArticle Past-Forwarding Ancient Calamities. Pathways for Making Archaeology Relevant in Disaster Risk Reduction Research
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040079
Received: 13 August 2017 / Revised: 6 October 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 26 October 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (19566 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Despite the alleged mastery of humans over nature, contemporary societies are acutely vulnerable to natural hazards. In interaction with vulnerable communities, these transform into catastrophes. In a deep historical perspective, human communities of many different kinds have been affected by numerous kinds of
[...] Read more.
Despite the alleged mastery of humans over nature, contemporary societies are acutely vulnerable to natural hazards. In interaction with vulnerable communities, these transform into catastrophes. In a deep historical perspective, human communities of many different kinds have been affected by numerous kinds of natural disasters that may provide useful data for scenario-based risk reduction measures vis-à-vis future calamities. The low frequency of high magnitude hazards necessitates a deep time perspective for understanding both the natural and human dimensions of such events in an evidence-based manner. This paper focusses on the eruption of the Laacher See volcano in western Germany about 13,000 years ago as an example of such a rare, but potentially highly devastating event. It merges Lee Clarke’s sociological argument for also thinking about such very rare events in disaster planning and David Staley’s notion of thinking historically about the future in order to ‘past-forward’ such information on past constellations of vulnerability and resilience. ‘Past-forwarding’ is here intended to signal the use of such deep historical information in concerns for contemporary and future resilience. This paper outlines two pathways for making archaeological information on past extreme environmental events relevant in disaster risk reduction: First, the combination of information from the geosciences and the humanities holds the potential to transform ancient hazards from matters of fact to matters of concern and, hence, to more effectively raise awareness of the issues concerned. Second, in addition to information on past calamities feeding into preparatory scenarios, I argue that the well-established outreach channels available to the humanities (museums, in particular) provide powerful platforms for communication to multiple publics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Linking the Local and the Global. What Today’s Environmental Humanities Movement Can Learn from Their Predecessor’s Successful Leadership of the 1965–1975 War to Save the Great Barrier Reef
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040077
Received: 30 August 2017 / Revised: 8 October 2017 / Accepted: 9 October 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (207 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
For a decade from 1965–1975, an Australian poet, Judith Wright, and a Reef artist, John Busst, played a major role in helping to save the Great Barrier Reef. The Queensland State Government had declared its intention of mining up to eighty percent of
[...] Read more.
For a decade from 1965–1975, an Australian poet, Judith Wright, and a Reef artist, John Busst, played a major role in helping to save the Great Barrier Reef. The Queensland State Government had declared its intention of mining up to eighty percent of the Reef’s corals for oil, gas, fertiliser and cement. The campaign of resistance led by these two humanists, in alliance with a forester, Dr. Len Webb, contributed substantively to the establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in 1975 and to then to the Reef’s World Heritage listing in 1983 as ‘the most impressive marine environment in the world’. This paper explains the challenges facing today’s environmental scholars and activists as they attempt to replicate the success of their 1970s predecessors in helping to save the Great Barrier Reef from even graver and more immediate threats to its survival. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle How Can Humanities Interventions Promote Progress in the Environmental Sciences?
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040076
Received: 30 August 2017 / Revised: 29 September 2017 / Accepted: 6 October 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (246 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Environmental humanists make compelling arguments about the importance of the environmental humanities (EH) for discovering new ways to conceptualize and address the urgent challenges of the environmental crisis now confronting the planet. Many environmental scientists in a variety of fields are also committed
[...] Read more.
Environmental humanists make compelling arguments about the importance of the environmental humanities (EH) for discovering new ways to conceptualize and address the urgent challenges of the environmental crisis now confronting the planet. Many environmental scientists in a variety of fields are also committed to incorporating socio-cultural analyses in their work. Despite such intentions and rhetoric, however, and some humanists’ eagerness to incorporate science into their own work, “radical interdisciplinarity [across the humanities and sciences] is ... rare ... and does not have the impact one would hope for” (Holm et al. 2013, p. 32). This article discusses reasons for the gap between transdisciplinary intentions and the work being done in the environmental sciences. The article also describes a project designed to address that gap. Entitled “From Innovation to Progress: Addressing Hazards of the Sustainability Sciences”, the project encourages humanities interventions in problem definition, before any solution or action is chosen. Progress offers strategies for promoting expanded stakeholder engagement, enhancing understanding of power struggles and inequities that underlie problems and over-determine solutions, and designing multiple future scenarios based on alternative values, cultural practices and beliefs, and perspectives on power distribution and entitlement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities for the Environment)
Back to Top