Study

Environmental Humanities is an interdisciplinary field of study that is designed to provide students with a solid foundation from which to understand and critically engage with contemporary environmental issues.

Species extinction, genetically modified organisms, climate change and nuclear power are just a few of the challenges facing us today. While these are all clearly ‘environmental’ issues, they are also all profoundly social, cultural and political challenges. Environmental Humanities focuses on developing critical insight into the ‘human dimensions’ of these environmental issues; issues that now permeate almost every aspect of our lives, from everyday lifestyle decisions to collective and public choices concerning urban development, energy security and food production.

Drawing on resources from across the humanities and social sciences, we provide students with a valuable and distinctive approach to the environment, grounded in the fields of history, philosophy, geography, cultural studies, literature, science and technology studies and social theory.

An Environmental Humanities education aims to develop:

  • An awareness of the historical, philosophical and political implications of the human construction and transformation of the environment;
  • An ability to utilise a range of disciplinary methods to analyse and critically interrogate diverse perspectives on contemporary environmental concerns;
  • An understanding of the way environmental concerns have become prominent political issues, as well as how social, economic and technological systems affect human relationships with the environment and the ways in which environmental decisions are made and controversies resolved; and
  • An ability to apply an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis and resolution of contemporary environmental dilemmas.

Undergraduate

UNSW offers Australia’s first undergraduate program in the Environmental Humanities.

Environmental Humanities is designed to be complementary with other undergraduate areas. Many students combine their studies with majors in environmental science, engineering, law, media and many other areas. Students are also encouraged to take electives from across the university that will broaden their understanding of environmental issues.

Degree options

Sample courses

Courses focus on topics such as:

  • wildlife 
  • environmental history 
  • biotechnology 
  • climate change 
  • environmental art 
  • consumerism and waste. 

The major culminates in a capstone course enabling students to complete a substantial research projects focusing on a contemporary environmental issue.

Honours

Studying Honours in the School of Humanities and Languages offers a chance to develop your research and professional skills guided by staff who are passionate about research and the development of new researchers. The research produced by an Honours student can set them apart from other graduates because of the skills developed, and the extended engagement in a relevant field of study.

Higher Degree Research

We currently offer the following postgraduate degrees in Environmental Humanities; Masters by Research (MA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Indicative areas of research supervision include:

  • Environmental philosophy and ethics
  • Environmental history
  • Environmental politics
  • Science and technology studies
  • Social and ecological theory
  • Eco-criticism and environment and literature
  • Multispecies ethnography
  • Environmental anthropology
  • Animal studies
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