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The Environmental Humanities at Princeton (EHP)

The Environmental Humanities Initiative (EHP) within the Princeton Environmental Institute seeks to facilitate broad participation of faculty, research scholars, and students from the humanities disciplines in the study of environmental subjects. Resources and programming activities are diverse with opportunities for advancing research and teaching in the environmental humanities as well as support for fostering an inclusive dialogue that provides insights and new perspectives to the study of environmental topics.

Research Research in the environmental humanities involves an active visitors program that brings leading scholars in the environmental humanities to Princeton along with a grants program that supports course development and faculty-led research.
Education Courses offered through the Program in Environmental Studies and in collaboration with affiliated academic units in the humanities and social sciences allow students to examine environmental topics through the lens of literary traditions, philosophy, history, and the arts.
Outreach Programming in the environmental humanities promotes an inclusive and challenging dialogue on the ethical, visual, literal, and human dimensions of environmental topics. Recent seminars, lecture series, and conferences have focused on climate ethics, environmental justice, the arts and sustainability, and more.


The role of the humanities in the examination of environmental subjects has long been understood and appreciated at Princeton. From inception of the Program in Environmental Studies in 1991, faculty from the humanities participated and helped shape a curriculum that explores the full interdisciplinary nature of environmental topics.

Courses on environmental literature and environmental history were early entries in the course catalogue with a broader range of courses added over time with the influx of new faculty and visitors to the center and in response to student interest.

With insight from center leadership from 2000-2006 and support of several generous alumni donors, the seeds for an expanding program in the environmental humanities were planted: first through the establishment of the Barron Visiting Professorship in 2003 and, subsequently, with support for environmental humanities course development and raising of funds to support several lecture series and conference programs centering on environmental ethics.

Programming from 2006-2013 was greatly expanded with a growing number of Barron visitors, raising awareness and leveraging opportunities for innovative programming and collaboration with academic units including the University Center for Human Values, the Center for African American Studies, the Lewis Center for the Arts, and with the departments of Anthropology, Architecture, English, and History. Also in this timeframe, the number and diversity of courses increased to include courses on environmental literature, biodiversity and multispecies, religion and ecology, climate ethics, environmental justice, food systems, art and architecture and the media of climate change, climate communications, environmental journalism, and theatrical representation.


Today, interest in environmental issues can be seen across the humanities, impacting the study of literature, art, anthropology, architecture, music, history, religion, philosophy, and more. Poets, novelists, photographers, playwrights, performers, and a variety of artists of significance have emerged and are recognized for contributions that shed important light on humanity's connections to the environment.

Faculty and student inquiry has similarly been impacted, giving rise to a generation of students and scholars who probe dimensions of the environment through the lens of their disciplinary study. Scholarship in the environmental humanities is proving to have terrific relevance not merely as an intellectual exercise but with potential to significantly impact real world applications especially in sectors involving climate communications, inter-governmental negotiations and diplomacy, environmental policy, regional/urban planning, and in the arts and entertainment.

Planning is underway to further expand the environmental humanities at Princeton. This includes the recent appointment of full-time faculty as well as annual recruitment of visiting faculty and development of courses and curriculum. PEI welcomes the opportunity to involve faculty from humanities in the research and teaching mission of the Institute including contributions to the development of courses and curriculum, mentoring undergraduate students on independent work, expansion of research and collaborations in areas of interest, and to the identification and recruitment of scholars in this emerging and important field.