HUM1005 - Climate Emergency! An Introduction to Environmental Humanities

2023/4 Module description

StaffDr Nicola Whyte - Lecturer
Dr Freyja Cox Jensen - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 3: 7 weeks;

Module description

This module is an introduction to cultures, histories, and politics of environmental and climate change.  Science has proven beyond doubt the global scale of human-natural engineering leading to the present climate emergency and environmental crisis; so what is the role of the Humanities in effecting positive change through understanding, interpreting and finding meaning?

In this module, you will learn about the specific issues facing the Earth today, about the implications of these global challenges facing all of us, and about the ways in which studying this can help us address problems in the present and the future. By placing current debates and dilemmas in cultural and historical contexts, the module allows you to explore how different disciplinary perspectives, and the different kinds of source material they use as evidence, enable us to understand more clearly why the world is facing an environmental and climate crisis, as well as how we might create a more just and equitable world.  

This module will provoke you to think with and through the relevant literary, historical, socio-cultural, philosophical, and political contexts, providing relevant skills for a wide range of Humanities courses.

Module aims

This module aims to engage critically with issues of culture, technology, climate, and Earth sciences.

You will examine a diverse range of theories and methodologies that highlight the cultural, socio-ecological, and political nature of emerging approaches to the environmental humanities.

You will explore how a wide range of humanities disciplines understand issues of class, race, and gender in relation to environmental crises and transformations, and you will engage with and debate the relationship between the composition of cultural texts and the society/societies within which they are created.

Conceptually, the module will enable you to study, at an introductory level, the intersection between complex critical-theoretical debates across disciplines.

The module will provide an introductory training in deploying critical concepts from the emerging field of environmental humanities by using bibliographic and electronic resources, as well as a wider range of transferable skills for the workplaces of the future.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Compare different disciplinary practices in their relationship to issues of environmental and climate change
  • 2. Evaluate the critical debates around global issues of socio-environmental change
  • 3. Discuss, express, or embody issues of representation and experiences of environmental and climate change
  • 4. Appraise and utilise critical and theoretical concepts and sources in relation to the study of environmental and climate change

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Analyse cultural forms using appropriate formal and critical terminologies
  • 6. Explain interdisciplinary approaches across temporal and geographical contexts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Demonstrate communication skills and/or team working skills
  • 8. Apply research and bibliographical skills and demonstrate the ability to construct a coherent, substantiated argument
  • 9. Use time-management skills and independent thinking

Syllabus plan

Key themes, topics, and approaches covered in the syllabus may include, but are not limited to:

  • the environmental humanities
  • environmental history
  • postcolonial ecocriticism and world-ecology studies
  • ecofeminism
  • queer ecology
  • eco-drama
  • eco-cinema and eco-literature
  • materialist media theory; climate change
  • animal/species studies and extinction
  • environmental resilience and vulnerability
  • food cultures and the food-system
  • petro-modernity
  • population
  • protest
  • revolt and activism
  • resource scarcity; the subterranean
  • the biosphere
  • the marine
  • the Anthropocene

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 3Workshop sessions
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 27Environmental Humanities Field School
Guided Independent Study120Independent and group research, reading and preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group challengeFlexible (field work)3-4 ,7, 9Direct feedback in workshop

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio of written work501500 words1-9Feedback sheet
Creative response group project 50Free format equivalent to 1000 words per student. (College norms for equivalent assessment will apply, depending on students’ choice of format) The full list of possible assessments will be discussed in a workshop ahead of assessment; information on assessment lengths will also be available on the ELE site).1-9Direct feedback in session; feedback sheet

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Portfolio of written work Portfolio of written work 1-9Referral/Deferral period
Creative response group project Creative response group project 1-9Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Web based and electronic resources available through the library:

  • Ariel: a review of international English literature
  • Capitalism, Nature, Socialism
  • Cinema Journal
  • Contemporary Literature
  • Ecozon@: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment
  • Green Letters
  • ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment
  • Studies in Documentary Film

Selected Secondary Texts:

  • Emmett, Robert & Nye, D. The Environmental Humanities: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge. 2017
  • Fredenger Christina, ‘Re-wilding the Environmental Humanities’. Current Swedish Archaeology 26 (2018): 50-60
  • Ghosh, Amitav. The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. Chicago. 2016
  • Heise, Ursula, Christensen, Jon, and Niemann Michelle, The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities. Abingdon. 2017.
  • Holm, Poul, et al., “Humanities fort the Environment—A Manifesto for Research and Action.” Humanities 4 (2015): 977-992.
  • Huggan, Graham and Helen Tiffin. “Introduction.” Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment. New York. 2010.1-24.
  • LeMenager, Stephanie, and Stephanie Foote. “The Sustainable Humanities.” PMLA 127.3 (2012): 572-578
  • Lovino, Serenella and Serpil Oppermann. “Introduction: Stories Come to Matter.” Material Ecocriticism. Bloomington, IN. 2014. 1-17.
  • Rose, Deborah Bird, Thom van Dooren, et al., “Thinking Through the Environment, Unsettling the Humanities.” Environmental Humanities 1 (2012):1-5
  • Sörlin, Sverker. “Environmental Humanities: Why Should Biologists Interested in the Environment Take the Humanities Seriously?’ BioScience 62.9 (2012): 788-89.
  • Tsing, Annan, Swanson, Heather, Gan Elaine, and Bubandt (eds) Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. Minneapolis, MN. 2018.
  • White, Lynn. “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis.” The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Athens, GA. 1996. 3-14.

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Key words search

environmental humanities, environment and climate change, environmental history, film and media, literature, theatre and performance, resource scarcity, animal/species studies and extinction, petro-modernity, anthropocene

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