What is Environmental Humanities?
Taking an ecological perspective on the humanities means that students look at a broad view of the ways humans engage with nature—from regional and global literary traditions to environmental philosophy, and from cultural identity to historical context. Courses include surveys of regional and global environmental literatures, storytelling, cultural studies, and in-depth explorations of art, writing, and philosophy.
From these foundations, students deeply enrich their experience with the creative process, whether locating and using local materials, sketching landscapes throughout our watershed, or developing innovative processes to make paper or fiber projects by adapting traditional techniques. Hands-on courses such as Fiber Arts, Pottery, Photography, Reverence for Wood, and Natural History Illustration immerse students in the creative process by working with local fiber, clay, watercolors, journals, hand-made paper, wood, and other materials.
When you major in Environmental Humanities, you recognize the relevance of creative work in a broader context—and applying that understanding toward the goal of effecting change in the world.
Why study Environmental Humanities in Vermont?
With rich cultural traditions, diverse settled and wild landscapes, and a disproportionate number of artists and craftspeople, Vermont is an ideal place to study the interrelationships between culture and ecology, as well as to practice your own craft. Craftsbury may be rural, but there are a number of nearby arts organizations, including The Music Box, The Art House Gallery & School, Bread & Puppet Theater, and the Fairbanks Museum.
“[T]he forming of intelligent human beings through contact with the natural world is the specifically human part of environmental value, and the core of value in the things humans make.” —Ellie Epp
What does it mean to be an Environmental Humanities major?
It means immersing yourself in the creative process to communicate, express yourself, and effect change while exploring ways in which humanity engages with nature. It means transforming wool into yarn, local clay into pottery, plant pulp into paper, and ideas into poetry and prose. Ultimately, it means fully engaging with the natural world as we interpret, create, and share impressions and ideas with the broader community.
Environmental Humanities is an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree program that helps to guide you as you roam creatively and intellectually across a dynamic and evolving landscape of visual art, literature, cultural studies, and science in an ecological context. As Environmental Humanities faculty member Pavel Cenkl puts it, “It’s about entangling human experience and creativity with the natural world.” Sterling’s beautiful rural campus is an ideal place to lose yourself as you explore the creative process, and then find yourself as you discover your voice.
The seasons at Sterling bring changing light, colors, and traditions, making this an ideal place to stand still while immersing yourself in a wide world of ideas and possibilities. The forests and fields provide bountiful natural art materials and endless subject matter.