Environmental Humanities

Environmental Humanities befassen sich mit Umweltprobleme
Environmental Humanities befassen sich mit Umweltprobleme (Image: Alison Pouliot)
Environmental Humanities befassen sich mit Umweltprobleme
Environmental Humanities befassen sich mit Umweltprobleme (Image: Alison Pouliot)

Lead: Marc Hall, Philippe Forêt and Christoph Küffer

Members: Samer Angelone (Universität Zürich), Flurina Gradin (ZHdK), Brack Hale (Franklin University Switzerland), Qing Pei (Universität Zürich), Alison Pouliot (Australian National University), Veronika Rall (Universität Zürich), Rory Rowan (Universität Zürich), Juanita Schläpfer-Miller (Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center), Emily Scott (ETHZ/ University of Oregon), Dan Tamïr (Universität Zürich), Katharina Thelen Lässer (Universität Zürich), Cosetta Veronese (HSR Rapperswil), Caroline Wiedmer (Franklin University Switzerland).

Goals and focus

The "Environmental Humanities" want to coordinate and strengthen research in the humanities on environmental problems. The cultural, social, historical and philosophical dimensions of environmental problems are investigated using concepts and methods from the humanities. The natural sciences are an integral part of Environmental Humanities and develop scientific contributions to an understanding of environmental problems in the humanities.
The aim of the "Environmental Humanities" working group is to strengthen and network the environmental humanities in Switzerland. To this end, it initiated joint activities: regular meetings and conferences, formulation of a research agenda, coordination and expansion of course offerings at various universities, publications and public relations work such as lecture series or film cycles. The working group brings together researchers from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences at Swiss universities. The web platform "Environmental Humanities Switzerland" serves as the most important instrument for networking.

Current activites

In 2018, the focus was on the question of the relevance of Environmental Humanities (EH) for application. A worldwide survey of EH research centres, co-financed by the SAGW, was carried out for this purpose. It investigated how the social and political relevance of the humanities by and for the environment can be strengthened. The final report was published together with a German and English summary, an article in GAIA (Kueffer et al. 2018) and a blog post (Kueffer and Hall 2018). The working group is also organising an artistic intervention entitled "Tree Stories" at the Zurich biodiversity festival "Abenteuer Stadtnatur". On a tour to non-native trees from all over the world, people told about their relationship to the respective tree (http://environmentalhumanities.ch/tree-stories/).
Under the title "Hot Hot Hot - Climate Change in Switzerland", Flurina Gradin, with the support of other working group members, organised the Design Symposium 2018 and the subsequent interdisciplinary module for 120 design students on the subject of climate change and design. The seminar "Concrete jungles: Urban ecology and its design" by Emily Scott (architecture theory) and Christoph Küffer (ecology) at the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich was also created thanks to the AG. It brought together students of architecture and environmental sciences.

Further Publications

  • Kueffer, C., Hall, M., Forêt, P. 2014. Environmental Humanities. SAGW Bulletin 4/2014, 31-32. (PDF)
  • Forêt, P., Hall, M., Kueffer, C. 2014. Developing the Environmental Humanities: A Swiss Perspective. GAIA 23 /1: 67-69. (PDF)
  • Hall, M. & P. Kupper (eds). 2014. Crossing Mountains. The Challenges of Doing Environmental History. RCC Perspectives 4/2014.


Marc Hall, Philippe Forêt und Christoph Küffer

  • Publications

  • 2019

Addressing sustainability challenges with a broader concept of systems, target, and transformation knowledge

Systems, targets and transformations are guiding metaphors of environmental and sustainability research. Is the framing of these concepts still adequate to address today’s wicked sustainability challenges?
  • 2018

Applying the Environmental Humnities

Environmental issues require answers from
science, society, and culture. How can we apply
the humanities and arts to these issues while
cultivating methodologies that value context-dependence,
multiperspectivity, relativism, and subjectivity?
Report Applying EH cover
  • 2017

Applying the Environmental Humanities: Ten steps for action and implementation

There is a growing perception in society and among decision makers that addressing
environmental problems requires fundamentally new approaches. This report is based upon a survey of practitioners who work in the field of Environmental Humanities and summarizes ten steps for action and implementation.
GAIA 2-17
  • 2017

Recognizing the Value of Universities of Applied Sciences for Environmental and Sustainability Research in Switzerland

Gesellschaftliche Transformationsprozesse
sind auf praxisnahe Forschung angewiesen.
Fachhochschulen sind dafür ideal positioniert,
werden in der Schweiz aber dahingehend
kaum unterstützt.
Die grosse Transformation der Schweiz
  • 2016

Eine große Transformation der Schweiz: Auf Bewährtes setzen und mit Neuem experimentieren

Die saguf-Jahrestagung 2015 widmete sich den Möglichkeiten und Grenzen einer großen
gesellschaftlichen Transformation hin zu einer nachhaltigen Schweiz. Auf etliche Errungenschaften kann aufgebaut werden. Experimente und Neuorientierungen sind dennoch nötig.