Contact FutureLearn for Support Environmental Humanities - Free online course Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
Watch the trailer

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsTake a look around you. Have you ever thought about your own relationship to the environment? You live, work and play in it, you shape it, and many of us have strong feelings about it --- about problems like climate change, toxic waste and endangered species, problems that affect everyone that shares our home, planet Earth. In this course you'll learn about a new field called the Environmental Humanities, an imaginative area of research that tries to sort out some of the mess we humans have made of our home, by telling a different kind of story about our place within it.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 seconds To do this, we'll bring together philosophers, historians, anthropologists, writers and others --- leading experts in the Environmental Humanities program at the University of New South Wales Australia, to examine the complex entanglements between humans and the environment. Hidden at the heart of environmental issues are complex histories and questions of politics, morality and religion. And while science has an important role to play, the fate of the environment will ultimately rest in our ability to remake our human value systems. Modernisation will reach its limits, so now is the time we must re-think some basic concepts that organise the architecture of our lives, such as nature, progress, and the right to live or die.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 secondsBut this course isn't all about doom and gloom. It's about re-crafting our stories and rebooting our institutions for the future. Inhabiting new stories where humans step up to the plate of responsibility, where we give non-humans a voice, and where sustainable futures aren't merely a dream. This is where you play your part. There are practical and alternative ways forward. So, if you'd like to join us in taking some steps towards a positive future, then this is where your journey begins.

About the course

In Environmental Humanities: Remaking Nature, you’ll get a broad overview of an emerging area of interdisciplinary research that reframes contemporary environmental challenges using approaches from philosophy, literature, language, history, anthropology, cultural studies and the arts.

You’ll see examples of active research in this field, and discover why humanities research is vital to understanding and confronting contemporary environmental challenges, such as climate change and global biodiversity loss.

“Remake” your ideas about nature

The Environmental Humanities places scientific knowledge in dialogue with the key concerns of the humanities: how people think, feel, protest, vote and create. Our main aim in this course is to consider and create new narratives about how humans and the environment relate to one another.

We’ll begin this course by identifying historical ways of thinking about the environment. Through a range of examples, we’ll illustrate how “nature” is a human invention. We’ll then look at how the role of humans has been conceptualised in opposition to notions of nature, and assert that we were never at the centre, nor in control of the environment.

Having questioned these common “modernist” conceptions about nature, we’ll examine some of the ways in which the natural world is being “remade,” both discursively (in the way we write, speak and think about it) and materially (for instance, in the alteration of DNA and the wholesale transformation of ecosystems).

Finally, we’ll ask you to join us in creating new narratives about nature that demonstrate greater care and concern.

Explore research methods and real-world environmental concerns

Leading experts from the Environmental Humanities programme at UNSW Australia’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences will introduce you to their research in this innovative and interdisciplinary field.

By the end of this course you will:

  • understand why the Environmental Humanities is critical to environmental problem-solving in this age of global environmental crisis;
  • have a clear idea of a range of research methods in the Environmental Humanities;
  • be aware of opportunities and challenges in this area, and how these relate to global environmental concerns;
  • and develop experience in using storytelling to envision new environmental paradigms and ways forward.
Requirements

This course is suitable for advanced undergraduates, postgraduates or researchers with a professional interest in Environmental Humanities or related disciplines. It is also suitable for learners around the globe who are interested in influencing environmental change and understanding how the humanities can aid environmental understanding and problem-solving.

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript £39.00

Statement of Participation £34.00

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

  • What is nature?
    What is nature?
    video

    In this video, Thom van Dooren explains why the conceptual framework of nature was never a good way of understanding the world around us.

  • Example 1: Separation of humans from nature—Colonisation
    Example 1: Separation of humans from nature—Colonisation
    video

    In this video, Deborah Bird Rose describes how notions of the nature-culture division are intricately entangled with power in the form of colonisation

  • Environmental justice
    Environmental justice
    video

    In this video, Paul Munro and Susie Pratt discuss environmental justice as a mode of restorying.